The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is tentatively encouraged by developments over the weekend regarding the importation of elephant and lion hunting trophies. President Trump’s statements show that he is listening to the public outcry on this issue. We await President Trump’s final decision, which he indicated would be announced this week.
In a Tweet the evening of November 17th, U.S. President Donald Trump appears to have bowed to pressure from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the global conservation community, stating: “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.”
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) confirmed that it intends to lift the ban on importation of elephant and lion trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe. While the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) acknowledges that well-managed hunting can play a role in financing conservation, we are opposed to the hunting of elephants, lions, and rhinos due to the ongoing poaching crisis and plummeting population numbers. Africa’s elephant population has declined by 30 percent in seven years, and according to the IUCN Red List there could be as few as 20,000 lions.
Last Wednesday, November 8, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the establishment of the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC). Whereas the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) would typically applaud such an effort by the U.S. government, the mandate and proposed membership of the IWCC shows that this council will be focused on promoting the hunting industry, not conservation.
With the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) underway in Bonn, German, world leaders, and conservation stakeholders are seeking to negotiate and outline how to implement the Paris Agreement. The agreement now signed by all countries—after Syria announced on November 7 that it would sign the agreement, leaving the U.S. as the only country opposing the global pact—is an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.