In 2014, Obama pushed through two regulations that banned imports of elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe. This was followed, in 2016, with the U.S Endangered Species Act officially putting lions on their list of endangered species, which led to further hunting restrictions being set in place.
Recently, the Trump administration undid these two protective regulations, according to the updates rules from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. These newly released guidelines state that hunters are allowed to bring back lion and other animal trophies into the U.S that they killed in different parts of Africa. Under these new rules, laid out on the FWS website, both wild lions and wild-managed lions from South Africa are also legal to hunt and import. Permission to hunt and import Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania lions is still up in the air.
This same week, Trump and his administration mentioned their plans to lift the current ban on the import of killed elephant remains, or trophies, from Zimbabwe and Zambia. A trophy hunting advocacy group known as Safari Club International were the ones who reported this new determination. African elephants have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1978. Anyone in Zimbabwe who legally killed an elephant from January 21, 2016, to December 31, 2018, or in Zambia in 2016, 2017 and 2018, could obtain a permit to import their trophy into the U.S, says the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.
Their reasoning behind these ban lifts, according to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, is that the hunting of these animals serves as a conservation effort. The Obama era bans on these trophy imports cited the lack of data for this conservation argument as being their reason for the prohibitions in the first place.
Starting On October 20th of 2017, wildlife officials began issuing the permits that allow for lions to be hunted and imported from Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Fish and Wildlife Service states on the website that to be approved for a permit to hunt, “we are looking for information demonstrating how your import will help improve the status of lions in the wild.” This logic is controversial considering the African lion population has already decreased by 42% just in the last 20 years. A comment from the president of the Humane Society of the U.S in a blog post about the situation, ” Killing them deducts from their populations, diminishes wildlife-watching experiences for others, and robs the countries of Africa of its greatest resources.”