Update: After an outpouring of public concern for the welfare of elephants, President Trump tweeted on November 18 that he would put the decision to lift the ban on trophy imports on hold until reviewing the conservation facts.
The U.S. government plans to reverse a 2014 ban that was passed to help save elephants from extinction, according to Safari Club International (SCI), a hunters' rights organization, which announced the news this week. ABC News then confirmed it with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Elephants are listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which makes importing trophies impossible. But there is a loophole: Importing trophies is legal if there is reason to believe that hunting and killing endangered animals can help boost conservation. Zimbabwe — which is currently in the grips of a political crisis and is where Walter Palmer shot and killed Cecil the lion in an illegal hunt — and Zambia both claim that wealthy trophy hunters from the U.S. could aid local conservation efforts. Lifting the ban would encourage hunters to come and kill the animals so many people around the world are rallying to save.