SCI Files New Lawsuit to Challenge 2015 Zimbabwe Elephant Importation Ban

elephantherdfirstforhunters042914SCI, together with the NRA, has filed a second lawsuit concerning the importation of elephants from Africa. This latest lawsuit challenges a March 26, 2015 decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to continue its ill-advised ban on the importation of elephants from Zimbabwe for 2015 and beyond.

The FWS first banned the importation of elephants sport-hunted in Zimbabwe on April 4, 2014. SCI promptly filed suit last year to challenge that ban. SCI, the game management authorities of Zimbabwe, and others submitted information to the FWS demonstrating the harms that the ban was causing to elephant conservation efforts.

Essentially ignoring that information, the FWS issued a second decision in July 2014, reaffirming the importation ban through December 31, 2014. SCI amended its lawsuit to include a challenge to the July 2014 decision. SCI, Zimbabwe and others continued to submit information to the FWS to dispute the need for the ban and to demonstrate how the ban was depriving the Zimbabwean government, hunting businesses and local communities of the funding needed to fight poaching.

On March 26, 2015, FWS announced a new decision to continue the ban for 2015 and beyond. On June 30, SCI filed its complaint challenging the 2015 importation ban. In making the decision, the FWS ignored and rejected information demonstrating the strength of Zimbabwe’s elephant population and the role that hunting plays in elephant protection and anti-poaching. SCI’s new lawsuit shares some claims with the 2014 lawsuit, and includes new claims against the FWS’ arbitrary decision to disregard the data in support of allowing importation. While SCI’s two cases move through the courts, the importation ban will continue to undermine the conservation and anti-poaching benefits that U.S. hunters bring to Zimbabwe.

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