The most recent move regarding wildlife conservation efforts by President Donald Trump was to lift the ban on imports of elephant hunting trophies and has left animal activists, including The Humane Society and the People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals, outraged.
The reversal of the Obama-era law was announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will allow for elephant hunting by permitted hunters in Zimbabwe and Zambia to return to the U.S. with trophies.
The Trump administration claims that in order to bring the trophies back to the U.S., the hunters will have to prove the elephant trophy money will be used for wildlife conservation funds. This is an extremely contradicting statement that promotes the killing of these vulnerable animals for conservation purposes.
There needs to be other ways to promote conservation rather than the killing of wild elephants, particularly because the money revenue that is said to be provided for local funds is not significant, according to a report by the Humane Society International (HSI).
The commission study by the HSI shows that local communities that are said to benefit from allowing elephant hunting on their land often do not see the money. The report finds that the elephant trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia accounts for only 0.78 percent of local money revenue.
A report conducted by National Geographic also takes a closer look at the funds that reportedly trickle down from hunting fees to locals, and it finds that the revenue is minimal and that government corruption is a huge factor. The report concludes that “trophy hunting isn’t stopping poaching, especially in countries that have a poor record of protecting their wildlife.”
On Nov. 16, the Trump administration said the decision was not finalized yet, so the time left before finalization should be used to find alternative ways of adding to conservation funds besides the hunting of a threatened species.
Ellen DeGeneres has also voiced her concern for the wild elephants, working alongside The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). For every post on social media using the #BeKindToElephants hastag, the talk-show host will donate to the DSWT for conservation efforts. There is also a Change.org petition that currently has over 22,000 signatures in support of stopping the ban from being lifted.
While the hunting of animals has been shown in the past to bring in money for local communities, reports find the money from elephant trophy hunting is not significant enough to support conservation or the local communities. The focus of policymakers must be shifted away from this corrupted idea.
Samantha Moffett is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.