US President Donald Trump said he’s delaying a new policy allowing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport to be imported until he can review “all conservation facts.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it will allow the importation of body parts from African elements shot for sport.
The agency said encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.
Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticised the decision.
On Friday, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the “wrong move at the wrong time.”
California Representative Ed Royce questioned the action because of concerns not only about African wildlife but US national security, citing the political upheaval in Zimbabwe, where the longtime president was placed under house arrest this week by the military.
“The administration should withdraw this decision until Zimbabwe stabilises,” the committee chairman said in a statement.
“Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organisations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate. Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the world’s most majestic animals for the future – it’s about our national security.”
Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2017
Mr Trump tweeted Friday that the policy had been “under study for years.”
He said he will review the issue with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs.
The change marks a shift in efforts to stop the importation of elephant tusks and hides, overriding a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration.
The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the agency said in a statement.