Facing Public Outrage, Trump Puts Elephant Trophy Decision ‘On Hold’

Earlier this week, the administration lifted a ban on the import of elephant parts from two African nations.

In the face of widespread public backlash, President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he has suspended — at least for now — his own administration’s decision to reverse an Obama-era ban on the importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” he posted to Twitter. He adding that the issue has been “under study for years” but that he would provide an update after additional review.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement on Twitter that he and Trump “believe that conservation & healthy herds are critical.”

As HuffPost reported Wednesday, the administration opted to lift the 2014 ban after determining that sport hunting of elephants in those African countries would “enhance the survival of the species in the wild,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. It also recently rolled back protections for African lions, releasing new guidelines that allow big game hunters to bring back to the U.S. animal trophies from hunts in parts of Africa.

The decision regarding elephants was made public not by the federal agency but via a celebratory news release early Tuesday from Safari Club International, a trophy hunting advocacy group that, along with the National Rifle Association, sued to block the 2014 ban. Greg Sheehan, principal deputy director of the FWS, broke the news to the hunting organization during the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Tanzania, an agency spokesperson told HuffPost. The forum, which ended Friday, was hosted by the Safari Club International Foundation and the United Republic of Tanzania.

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