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African Wildlife Foundation Calls for Transparency Regarding Importation of Elephant and Lion Trophies

  • Monday, November 20, 2017
  • Washington, D.C.
Photograph of male lion

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.

While the President appears to be moving in the right direction, the process by which decisions were taken on the importation of lion and elephant hunting trophies remains alarming. The notice published in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on November 17, 2017, concerned only the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. However, the USFWS is also allowing importation of lion trophies from Zimbabwe, as well as elephant and lion trophies from Zambia. To better understand the decision-making process relating to these issues, AWF today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Interior.

“The recent tweets by President Trump are a positive sign, but we must keep the pressure high,” said Jeff Chrisfield, Chief Operating Officer for the African Wildlife Foundation. “Elephant and lion numbers are rapidly declining in Africa, and we need the entire conservation community to be on the record regarding this issue.”

AWF acknowledges that well-managed hunting can play a role in financing conservation. However, we are currently opposed to the hunting of elephants, lions, and rhinos due to the ongoing poaching crisis and critical 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. Rather than emphasizing elephant and lion trophy hunting as a primary solution, AWF strongly urges the United States government to support Zimbabwe and Zambia’s ongoing conservation efforts through direct financial support to anti-poaching, and related community livelihoods improvement as a whole.

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