Guest piece by Kaitlyn Hotchkin
On November 16, the Trump administration struck again. This time, on elephants. Our government announced the legalization of trophy-hunting elephants in Zimbabwe as well as the legalization of trophy imports into the United States. For Trump to do this, he had to reverse a ban put in place in 2014 under the Obama administration.
Trump announced via Twitter the next day he was putting the reversal on hold after receiving an overwhelming amount of negative reactions “until such time as I review all conservation facts.”
If you’re wondering how he got away with it in the first place, it’s because he used a really lame excuse: allowing imports of trophies would help with the survival of the species. If you think this smells like absolute elephant dung, you’re right. National Geographic explains how fees from trophy hunting don’t actually help local communities like many people would want to believe. Instead, it is helping drive elephants to extinction.
An excerpt from the article reads, “Here’s the thinking: Invite hunters from rich countries to pay generous fees to shoot specified numbers of elephants, and use that money for conservation and to help give local communities a boost. Do that, the theory goes, and poor villagers won’t need to poach elephants to feed their families.”
While this might make sense on paper, it is severely flawed. In reality, the trophy hunting industry in Africa does not employ many people, and villagers only receive a minimal amount from the fees.
You are not alone if you are feeling outraged. Multiple celebrities and organizations posted their disapproval of Trump’s initial action on various social media platforms. Ricky Gervais posted on Twitter, “The fact that Trump has lifted President Obama’s ban on elephant trophies being imported into the country is a devastating blow to the survival of these beautiful animals. It’s savage and pointless. It breaks my heart.”
Ellen DeGeneres also voiced her opinion on Twitter, stating, “Compassion, social intelligence, decisiveness, patience, wisdom. These are all qualities found in elephants and not found in the people allowing them to be killed for trophies. #NotUs.”
An excerpt from a blog from the Humane Society stated, “Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them.”
In a Facebook post, The Center for Biological Diversity said they would sue Trump for his decision.
Fortunately, Trump heard the overwhelmingly negative responses to the reversal of the trophy hunting ban, but let’s not overlook what this means. The decision is not final. We have been promised only an update. We have not been promised the safety of the world’s elephants. It is still crucial to take action.
DeGeneres is running a campaign in an effort to help save elephants from extinction. For every tweet with the campaign’s logo (right) captioned with #BeKindToElephants, she will donate to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. She launched this campaign by sharing facts about elephants that many people probably don’t know in hopes that people will see how compassionate these animals are. You can see her emotional call to action here.
You can also sign the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens STOP Ivory Trade pledge — a pledge drive started back in August 2017 by the zoo. The pledge can be found here.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article cited the wrong writer as its author. We apologize for the mistake.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons