African elephant tusks and trophies imported to the U.S., 2005-2016. Fewer elephants were killed under the 2015 ban elephant trophy imports under President Obama. Graphic: The Washington Post

By Christopher Ingraham
17 November 2017

(The Washington Post) – Supporters of trophy hunting say that permit fees from the practice, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in the case of large game like elephants, can be put toward conservation efforts that help bolster the populations of endangered animals.

In part, that's the logic behind the Trump administration's reversal of an Obama-era ban on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has made a finding that the killing of African elephant trophy animals in Zimbabwe, on or after January 21, 2016, and on or before December 31, 2018, will enhance the survival of the African elephant,” according to a notice posted Friday in the federal register.

But if the logic of killing elephants to save them strikes you as questionable, you're not alone.

As of 2014 the African elephant population stood at an estimated 374,000, according to the Global Elephant Census, a massive and costly effort to measure the continent's remaining savanna elephant population. That's down from an estimated 10 million elephants at the turn of the 20th century, and from 600,000 of the animals as recently as 1989. […]

Zimbabwe, in particular, has been rife with bad wildlife management practices, which is why the Obama administration banned elephant trophy imports from the country in the first place. […]

Before the Obama administration's ban, animals hunted in Zimbabwe accounted for nearly half of all elephant trophy imports to the United States, according to Fish and Wildlife Service data analyzed by the Humane Society. After the ban was put in place, elephant trophy imports fell dramatically. [more]

The Trump administration says we have to kill elephants to help save them. The data says otherwise

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