Ellen DeGeneres is determined to do something about the elephant in the room; the unfathomable decision by President Trump to end the 2014 ban on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the U.S.
The ever-compassionate comedian, vegan, and animal advocate, announced on her talk show and social media platforms yesterday the launch of the #BeKindToElephants Campaign to raise money for elephant conservation.
“Basically, by lifting this ban, he is encouraging Americans to kill elephants,” DeGeneres told her audience. “Elephants show compassion, sympathy, social intelligence, self-awareness, they’re excellent at learning abilities; all the things I have yet to see in this president.”
DeGeneres posted an image of an elephant to her Instagram and Twitter pages, noting that for every retweet and like of the photo, she would make a donation to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), a foundation that works to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants in Nairobi National Park, Kenya.
“We strongly believe that no animal should be hunted for ‘sport’ in the name of conservation,” the organization said in a statement, “and lifting the import ban would be a backward step for ethical conservation efforts.”
The controversial decision to overturn the ban that was enacted during the Obama administration was confirmed yesterday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) after it questionably determined that the hunting and management programs for African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia would “enhance the survival of the species in the wild.”
According to DWST, the news was first announced by Safari Club International, a pro-hunting group that hosts an annual auction of animal hunting permits and hunting trips.
African elephants have been under siege for decades, targeted by ivory poachers and legal hunters, and in parts of the continent, their numbers have dropped perilously. According to the Great Elephant Census, the elephant population dropped by 30% from 2007 to 2014, a loss of 144,000 elephants. Across Zimbabwe, it fell 6%, and substantial declines have been recorded along the Zambezi River in Zambia.
“Killing an elephant will not conserve the species,” stated DWST. “Lifting the import ban will act only to encourage hunters to secure permits to kill elephants in the knowledge they can bring their ‘trophy’ home to the United States.”
In addition to the generous efforts by DeGeneres, DWST released the following information on ways people can help:
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Live in the USA?
Contact the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, imploring him to take a stand against reversing the ban. While Mr. Zinke appears to support hunting in various forms, it is important to register your disappointment and show that citizens do not support the proposed changes. We have drafted a template letter here, which includes contact details for where to send your message. (Template as a word document can be downloaded here)
Contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service to explain why reversing the ban is bad news for elephants. We have drafted a template letter here, which includes contact details for where to send your message. (Template as a word document can be downloaded here)