The Trump administration just lifted an Obama-era ban on elephant hunting

From attempting to repeal Obamacare to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, many might argue that the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to erase Barack Obama’s legacy. In the latest move, the current administration has ended Obama’s ban on importing elephant trophies from certain African countries.

After the law goes into effect, Americans will be able to hunt elephants in Zambia and Zimbabwe, where Cecil the lion was shot in 2015 by game hunter Walter Palmer. The new law only applies to elephants hunted between January 21st, 2016 and the end of 2018. The reversal is part of a larger campaign by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to increase hunting.

The Obama administration first enacted the ban in response to the dwindling elephant population. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of elephants in the world decreased by 30 percent. African elephants are listed as “Threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wrote in a statement that sport hunting can contribute to conservation efforts.

“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation, it said.

But animal rights groups are not happy with the legislative changes. The Humane Society of the United States’s official account tweeted their disappointment about the news.

Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society, also wrote a blog post detailing his reaction to the policy change.

"What kind of message does it send that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it's just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?" he wrote.

Public opinion is divided on this issue, and we can only hope that the enactment of this policy will not negatively impact the conservation of these majestic animals.

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