Following the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recent ban on importing sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, the hunting advocacy group Safari Club International has filed a federal lawsuit to have the ban repealed. Although the ordinance is only temporary, Safari Club claims the ban on trophies will have damaging effects for the very animals they hope to kill and import.
"Without the ability to import the most significant symbol of their effort and success, many U.S. hunters will not undertake the huge expense of an elephant hunt," Safari Club said in a statement regarding the lawsuit. "The absence of US hunters will undermine the outfitting industry, which often provides the first line of defense against poaching. It will also reduce conservation dollars derived from the hunting fees and community support for elephant conservation."
But the wildlife service contends that hunting-for-conservation is not the best approach to combat poaching in Africa, which continues to decimate the region's elephant population. Poor regulations in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, in particular, have left little room for weak conservation efforts.
"Questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants in Tanzania," the wildlife service said in a statement earlier this month. "In Zimbabwe, available data, though limited, indicate a significant decline in the elephant population."
The ban does not outlaw American elephant-hunting in either Zimbabwe or Tanzania, though it will likely deter the practice.