Trump Delays Change in Elephant Hunting Policy

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The move would overturn a 2014 rule implemented under the Obama administration that banned hunters from bringing the trophy heads of elephants they'd killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the U.S.

"Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts".

That did not sit well with animal rights activists, and that includes Ellen.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke issued a statement Friday night about putting the decision on hold: "President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical".

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"I have to say I think this is a big mistake", he said, "Space for Giants does not operate in the countries under discussion, Zambia and Zimbabwe, but I would say that lifting the ban sends completely the wrong signals at a time when the world needs absolute ban on any trade in wildlife parts".

However, critics say it will harm the dwindling elephant population.

"The administration should withdraw this decision until Zimbabwe stabilizes", the committee chairman said in a statement. Proponents of Trump's decision to lift the ban said it would actually help conservation efforts.

The African bush elephant is now listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but a provision of the law allows for the import of trophies if it can be proved that hunting the animals contributes to conservation efforts. Elephant populations, in particular, have been devastated across Africa over the past century.

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As a result, the number of African elephants has shrunk from about five million a century ago to about 400,000 remaining.

Despite the outcry and Trump's stated reversal, the worldwide affairs page of the US Fish and Wildlife Service still - as of Saturday morning local time - says it will issue permits for importing big game animal parts.

"It's great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision, but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions", Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Tanya Sanerib said. "We need immediate federal action to reverse these policies and protect these incredible animals".

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