Based on little more than best guesses and whole bunch of maybes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a suspension on imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe during calendar year 2014.
According to USFWS, questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants in Tanzania. In Zimbabwe, available data, though limited, indicate a significant decline in the elephant population. Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicized poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege.
Given the current situation on the ground in both Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the Service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Endangered Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries. Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.
The decision to suspend the import of sport-hunted trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe applies to elephants taken in 2014. The Service will reevaluate this suspension for calendar year 2015 or upon receipt of new information that demonstrates an improved situation for elephants in these countries.
Legal, well-regulated sport hunting, as part of a sound management program, can benefit the conservation of listed species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation. At this time, the Service does not have conservation concerns with African elephant sport hunting in Namibia, South Africa, or Botswana; though it should be noted that Botswana is not currently open to sport hunting.
For more information, please visit www.fws.gov/international/permits/by-activity/sport-hunted-trophies.html.
Check out the full article in the next issue of Lone Star Outdoor News, available online and on newsstands tomorrow.
Photo by Lili Sams, LSON.