Quantcast
Animals
Pexels

Trump's 'Hold' on Elephant Trophies May Not Be Enough

As many of you may have heard by now, President Donald Trump tweeted, and Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke reiterated, a decision late Friday night to put elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe "on hold" out of the belief that "conservation and healthy herds are critical."

This follows the administration's decision, on Thursday, to allow such imports after finding Zimbabwe's management of its elephant population "enhances the survival of the species" (referred to as a "positive enhancement finding") under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The announcement reversed the Obama-era suspension on such imports due to finding the opposite: that Zimbabwe was NOT successfully managing its elephant population.


It's great and surprising news that the administration has decided to examine the issue more closely given Zimbabwe's current political instability and horrible track record when it comes to trophy hunting. But here are five things we should remember:

(1) "On hold" may not be enough.

The biggest thing to remember is that putting elephant trophy imports "on hold" may not be enough. This could allow the president to begin allowing these imports in the dead of night, without any announcement, when the public outrage dies down and the political situation in Zimbabwe stabilizes. We don't want that to happen and are still reviewing our legal options.

(2) But it's still a REALLY POSITIVE sign.

So don't lose heart. The fact that Trump is listening to the American public over the small but powerful group of folks rich enough to trophy hunt internationally (including Trump's sons) is powerful. We absolutely should rejoice and learn from this, even if it's too soon to declare victory.

(3) Tweets are tweets ... are tweets.

Both Trump and Zinke's announcements were delivered via tweet which, last time I checked, mean nothing. I know we're in a whole new world, but just something to think about.

(4) Even Republicans opposed lifting the ban.

This situation has reiterated that we have supporters on both sides of the aisle when it comes to this issue. No, I'm not talking about Trump, whose views around all this are still largely in question. I'm talking about the wide range of Republican politicians and pundits—from Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Ed Royce (R-CA) to Laura Ingraham and Mike Savage—who came out in fierce opposition to the administration's Thursday announcement. It's heartening to know elephants sometimes transcend partisan lines.

(5) Trophies contribute to the ivory trade.

While this recent turn of events has sparked much discussion on the drawbacks of trophy hunting—both in terms of conservation and economics—few have mentioned the role elephant trophies play in the global ivory market. Indeed, elephant trophies that enter the U.S. and other countries legally often end up on the black market—via the Internet or otherwise. They are then bought by ivory carvers who turn them into bracelets and figurines and sell them to consumers both far and near. In fact, during a 2008 investigation on the U.S. ivory markets, some carvers admitted to having purchased trophy tusks from Zimbabwe on the Internet. We should be helping advance the significant global momentum to ban domestic ivory markets that has achieved recent closures in the U.S., China, and, hopefully soon, the UK—not getting in the way by allowing more trophy imports that feed ivory demand.

Elly Pepper is deputy director, Wildlife Trade Initiative and wildlife advocate, Land & Wildlife program at Natural Resources Defense Council.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Scott Pruitt speaking at meeting at the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan. 17. Lance Cheung / USDA

Breaking: Sierra Club Demands Pruitt’s Emails After Only 1 Disclosed by EPA

As part of ongoing litigation, the Sierra Club has demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) search Scott Pruitt's personal email accounts for work-related emails, or certify clearly and definitively that the administrator has never used personal email for work purposes. The demand comes on the heels of a successfully litigated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's email and other communications with all persons and parties outside the executive branch. These facts were first reported in Politico early this morning.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Iceland Flouts Global Ban to Slaughter First Protected Fin Whale of New Hunting Season

Iceland's multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf have resumed their slaughter of endangered fin whales in blunt defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling.

The hunt is Iceland's first in three years and marks the start of a whaling season that could see as many as 239 of these majestic creatures killed.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Life- Trac / CC BY-SA 3.0

Farm Bill With Huge Giveaways to Pesticide Industry Passes House

A farm bill that opponents say would harm endangered species, land conservation efforts, small-scale farmers and food-stamp recipients passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211, with every House Democrat and 20 Republicans voting against it, The Center for Biological Diversity reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!