U.S. FWS CONTINUES HARMFUL AND UNSUPPORTABLE IMPORTATION BAN ON ZIMBABWE ELEPHANTS

elephantsatwaterfirstforhunters052114Safari Club International is deeply disappointed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) announcement yesterday that it will continue the ban on the importation of sport-hunted elephants from Zimbabwe for the rest of 2015.  The FWS first imposed an importation ban on sport-hunted elephants from Zimbabwe in April 2014. Yesterday’s decision will continue the importation ban indefinitely into the future until it is lifted by the FWS.

Despite receiving data and information from Safari Club, Zimbabwe, and many others regarding the benefits of elephant hunting in Zimbabwe, the FWS claims that it remains unable to determine that elephant hunting in Zimbabwe enhances the survival of the species. The FWS continues to claim that it lacks enough information regarding how Zimbabwe manages its elephants and identifies six specific areas of concern (see links below). Even though it recognizes that hunting benefits elephant conservation in various ways, the FWS has put the entire burden of addressing poaching on the hunting community. The FWS refuses to allow importation of legally sport-hunted elephants until it finds that the benefits of hunting outweigh the detrimental impacts of poaching – setting an unrealistic and unprecedented goal for an enhancement determination.

“In response to the Service’s request for more information in April 2014, the government of Zimbabwe, Safari Club International, the outfitters and guides who operate in that country, and others presented the Service with a tremendous amount of evidence of the enhancement value of elephant hunting and importation,” said Craig Kauffman, President of SCI. “In addition, collectively we have provided the Service with information about how the importation ban has and will cause harm to elephant conservation in Zimbabwe. But it appears that the Service simply moved the target so that it could continue to try to shut down the sport-hunting of elephants in Zimbabwe by U.S. citizens. This move simply undermines the well-documented conservation and anti-poaching benefits generated by the U.S. hunters.”

The FWS’s recent decision suggests that litigation or legislation may be the only ways to change the determination, as demonstrations of the benefits of elephant hunting in Zimbabwe have fallen on deaf ears at the FWS. Safari Club remains hard at work challenging these baseless and harmful determinations. Safari Club’s challenge to the 2014 importation ban is still ongoing in federal district court. Safari Club will analyze the new decision to determine if it needs to file a new lawsuit or amend the current lawsuit. Additionally, Safari Club is considering possible attempts to legislatively correct the FWS’s flawed enhancement determinations. Regardless of how we decide to proceed in response to the 2015 ban, Safari Club’s challenge to the 2014 ban will continue.

The following are links from the FWS website:

Press Release – http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ID=56D54860-AEA6-0EEE-73467FE9B00499F0

Questions and Answers – http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/questions-and-answers-suspension-of-elephant-sport-hunted-trophies.pdf

2015 Enhancement Finding – http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/enhancement-finding-March-2015-elephant-Zimbabwe.pdf

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