Center For Biological Diversity Lawsuit Challenges Trump Admin’s Elephant & Lion Trophy Import Decision

Photo by the office of Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz

The Center for Biological Diversity and the National Resources Defense Council are suing the Trump administration for allowing hunters to import lion trophies and potentially elephant trophies from Zimbabwe into the United States.

The lawsuit, which was first announced by Candice Kim, campaign director with the Center for Biological Diversity during a press conference that took place yesterday outside of Los Angeles City Hall, aims to protect animals and resolve confusion created by the administration’s contradictory announcements in recent days.

Photo by Jane Valez-Mitchell of JaneUnchained

The press conference, organized by Social Compassion In Legislation (SCIL), also included speakers: California State Senate president pro tempore Kevin de León; Judie Mancuso, Founder and President of SCIL; Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz; Katie Cleary, Founder of Peace 4 Animals and World Animal News; Simone Reyes, Vice President of Social Compassion In Legislation; and award-winning journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, Founder of JaneUnchained.

“Why go backward? Why go back,” questioned actress Michelle Rodriguez who also spoke at the press conference while other high-profile attendees such as Joaquin Phoenix stood in support.

Photo by the office of Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz

As previously reported by WAN, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has quietly started permitting lion trophy imports from Zimbabwe on October 20th of this year.

“While public outrage has forced Trump to temporarily retreat from the despicable decision of his underlings, it takes more than a couple tweets to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering lions and elephant,” Kim said. “Any decision to allow trophy imports from Zimbabwe is clearly illegal, and we will do everything we can to ensure such imports are officially prohibited.”

According to the Center of Biological Diversity, the Trump administration’s decision to lift the ban on these trophy imports relies heavily upon Zimbabwe having the plans, resources, funds, and staff to conserve elephant and lion populations. But, as yesterday’s lawsuit notes, in a country where corruption is already a huge concern, the military coup that began November 14th, 2017, has cast further uncertainty on Zimbabwe’s rule of law.

“The Trump administration must clearly and permanently halt imports of lion and elephant trophies to protect these amazing animals from extinction,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s abrupt backpedaling after public outcry, while appreciated, shows how arbitrary this deplorable decision was. These incredibly imperiled creatures need a lot more than vague promises.”

“Putting trophy imports on hold isn’t enough,” concluded Elly Pepper, Deputy Director of Wildlife Trade for the National Resources Defense Council. “Elephants are in crisis now. If we don’t force the administration to completely revoke its decision, President Trump will quietly start allowing these imports as soon as he stops facing criticism on Twitter.”

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.

Studies show that trophy hunting accounts for only a small portion of the funding all tourists, including those who do not deplete wildlife populations, provide African countries that allow trophy hunting.

The NRDC has also provided copy for people who want to personally express their outrage to President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and request a permanent ban HERE!  

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