Sunday, November 19, 2017

Elephant trophies - we must kill them to save them.

Yep. Just like destroying the town to save it.

Unless otherwise noted, snippets below are from the NY Times report on Trump’s policy reversal.

The issue: Importing elephant parts

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service had signaled its intention to end the 2014 ban, citing Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts. On Thursday, the service announced on its website that it would begin issuing permits to allow the import of elephants hunted from 2016 to 2018, with two trophies allowed per import.

Nearly two weeks ago, the department also waived the ban in a similar manner for Zambia.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have had mixed success in recent years maintaining or increasing their elephant population, according to the Great Elephant Census, a project financed by Paul G. Allen, a founder of Microsoft. The project also found that the African elephant population shrunk nearly 30 percent from 2007 to 2014.

Originally the USFWS was going to allow elephant parts into the US: Trump Administration to Lift Ban on ‘Trophy’ Elephant Imports. Then, under public pressure, Trump and his administration reversed course: For Now, Trump to Keep Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies.

The positions: Conservation vs. trophy hunters

Safari Club International, a trophy-hunting organization that sued the Obama administration in 2014 in an effort to challenge the ban and was the first to report the policy change on Tuesday, lashed out against the news media and “anti-hunters” for swaying the Trump administration to lift the trophy ban.

FYI: that organization is headquartered in Tucson.

“The fight for the freedom to hunt is far from over,” Paul Babaz, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “We will be more proactive and not back down.”

But environmental groups applauded the reversal on Friday and called for more restrictions on trophy hunting, which has faced increased scrutiny, especially after an American dentist killed Cecil, a lion beloved in Zimbabwe, in 2015.

Update: Earlier this year the head hunters got Cecil’s son also - as I posted in Cecil’s son, Xanda, shot by head hunters. I wrote: “I am not neutral in this one. The Scribers were on safari in Zimbabwe’s Hwange park in 2016 and had the good fortune to observe Xanda mating. We’ve lost a truly magnificent animal so that a head hunter has bragging rights.”

“It’s great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity, “but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions.”

Trumps’ trophies: A tale of Don Jr.’s tail.

The NY Times editorial board was unforgiving in its scathing reporting of Don Jr.’s trophy hunting in Zimbabwe: Trump Bags Another Anti-Obama Trophy: Dead Elephants.

Elephants are remarkably empathic and intelligent, even capable of self-awareness.

And then there’s the Trump administration, which announced this week that it would lift a ban imposed by the Obama administration on importing elephant heads, feet and other body parts severed as trophies after the animals are shot for sport in Zimbabwe. A few weeks ago the administration said it would end a similar ban on imports from Zambia.

The policy reversal is a gift to the big game trade from Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, who’s apparently not satisfied with scrapping environmental and species protections on just one continent.

Lifting this ban could endanger gains made by governments and environmental groups to protect elephants from illegal trade in ivory and other body parts. At the very least it sends yet another message that this is an administration in service of itself and its cronies.

To be clear: The administration’s assessment of Zimbabwe’s elephant population rests mostly with assurances from safari outfitters and professional hunters who profit from killing the animals, and the government of a nation in the midst of a military coup. …

If there’s any question how the administration could accept such rosy assessments, it’s worth noting that one high-profile hunter with solid White House connections was photographed a few years ago in Zimbabwe clutching the severed tail of an elephant: Donald Trump Jr. [Scriber: the Times’ editorial has the photo!]

Carefully monitored culling has been called one means for ensuring the health of these animals and the terrain they inhabit. The Obama administration had permitted South African elephant trophies. A share of the revenues from elephant-hunting safaris was supposed to help fund conservation efforts, though critics question if the strategy is working.

But administration officials don’t seem to really care about whether or how Zimbabwe complies with any of this. They want their trophies.

The thing is that the neither Cecil nor his son were killed for purposes of culling. They were magnificent lions in their prime.

The Times board acknowledged the reversal that occurred after their editorial was written:

Update: On Friday evening, President Trump tweeted that he would leave the ban in place, pending further review.

“Pending further review.” Hmmm. Stay tuned.

What elephants think of this

How about we ask the elephants? New Yorker satirist Andy Borowtiz reports that Elephants Unmoved by Trump’s Backtracking on Trophy Ban: “We Don’t Forget”.

HARARE, Zimbabwe (The Borowitz Report)—Unimpressed by President Donald Trump’s sudden backtracking on his proposed elephant-trophy ban, elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia released a scathing official statement on Saturday, ominously warning Trump, “We don’t forget.”

The blistering statement from the elephants reflected the pachyderms’ contempt not just for Trump but for his two sons, Eric and Donald, Jr., who are widely despised by the elephant community.

“The decision to lift the trophy ban reeks of political expediency as it worst,” the elephants’ statement read.

The elephants also sent a strongly worded legal letter to the Republican National Committee, demanding that the G.O.P. immediately cease and desist using the elephants’ likenesses in Republican fund-raising appeals and all other materials.

Scriber’s usually unreliable sources report that the GOP has refused to comment.

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