Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, seems hellbent on reversing every piece of environmental legislature enacted by his arch-nemesis, his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barrack Obama — even if that means setting the world on fire.
Trump’s Administration has done so much to hurt the environment that keeping a tally can be a full-time job. National Geographic has a running list of all the vast changes Trump has made to U.S. science and environmental policy, if you’re interested. Among his ‘best-of’, we can remember him revoking flood standards, disbanding climate panels and programs, budget cuts for the environment, expanding offshore drilling, moving forward with the scrapping of ‘Clean Power Act’ or — the big one — exiting the Paris Agreement. The United States could become literally the only country in the world not part of the Paris Agreement, after Syria, a ravaged and war-torn country, recently joined.
With this ‘impressive’ track-record in mind, it’s difficult to image what Trump could do to make things worse. Expect the unexpected with this ‘big, powerful’ man. Even when you’d think he couldn’t possibly stoop any lower, there he is, defying all odds. This week’s environmental bombshell comes from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) which announced it would lift a 2014 Obama-imposed ban on ivory imported from Zimbabwe and Zambia. According to the USFWS, allowing wealthy white Americans to lure and shoot elephants in the African savannah will actually help conservation efforts.
Though Elephants are listed as “threatened” under the US Endangered Species Act, there’s a provision that says trophies belonging to listed species can be imported on US soil as long as there’s evidence that the hunting can aid conservation.
“Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management programme 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,” a USFWS spokesman said.
“To support conservation, hunters should choose to hunt only in countries that have strong governance, sound management practices, and healthy wildlife populations.”
Needless to say, environmental and animal rights groups were not convinced at all, especially in the context of a recent controversy ensued after Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe in 2015.
“Evidence shows that poaching has increased in areas where trophy hunting is permitted,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society. “Remember, it was Zimbabwe where Walter Palmer shot Cecil, one of the most beloved and well-studied African lions, who was lured out of a national park for the killing. Palmer paid a big fee even though it did irreparable damage to the nation’s reputation.”
“Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the US government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them.”
A notice regarding this change to the 2014 ban will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday with more specifics.