The Trump administration on Wednesday announced that it will issue permits for elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, reversing a 2014 ban under President Obama.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official told ABC News that the agency received new information from the countries that the move would benefit conservation in the area.
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the FWS statement said.
The same department, under Obama, determined in 2015 that importing the trophies would not benefit the species in the area.
The National Rifle Association praised the FWS decision Wednesday, the New York Post reported. The paper reported that elephants — valued for their tusks — have been on the “threatened” species list since 1978.
“By lifting the import ban on lion trophies in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Trump administration underscored the importance of sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting to the survival and enhancement of game species in this country and worldwide,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Human Society of the United States, called the Trump administration’s decision jarring, the Post reported.
“Remember, it was Zimbabwe where Walter Palmer shot Cecil, one of the most beloved and well-studied African lions, who was lured out of a national park for the killing. Palmer paid a big fee even though it did irreparable damage to the nation’s reputation.”
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have been known to hunt for big game. Several years ago, Trump Jr. was criticized for posting a photo of himself with a dead elephant’s severed tail.
“Reprehensible behavior by the Trump Admin,” tweeted the Elephant Project.
“100 elephants a day are already killed,” the group said. “This will lead to more poaching.”