Cape Town - Friends of Animals (FoA) discovered that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is continuing to issue permits for elephant hunting trophies from Zimbabwe despite a halt on the lifting of the ban.
The non-profit international organisation, working towards ending cruelty and exploitation of animals around the world, found out about the permits after requesting documents from FWS through a US Freedom of Information request.
SEE: Trump halts lifting of import ban on elephant trophies following global outcry
Released in a FoA statement, they found that the FWS has issued 16 individual permits authorising the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe before announcing to the public in November that it was lifting its ban.
The first permit was issued in January, with the last issued on 16 November this year.
“It is outrageous that despite finding that Zimbabwe has no effective program to conserve the African elephant population in that country, that FWS would covertly issue this year 16 permits authorizing the killing of elephants in that country by American hunters,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program.
“These permits were issued without any opportunity for non-agency scientists and other interested parties to provide information regarding the impact the issuance of these permits would have on African elephants in Zimbabwe, which will be completely devastating.”
ALSO SEE: US to reverse elephant trophy ban while COP23 is under way
FoA is currently busy with a lawsuit against the agency for its decision to lift the ban, for now halted by President Donald Trump, but the new information means that they will be amending their original lawsuit.
“Friends of Animals will not tolerate a gift to the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, which for decades have spent substantial money perpetuating that myth that trophy hunting is the best way to fund sustainable wildlife conservation in Africa, blatantly ignoring the evidence to the contrary that continues to pile up. Studies show that increased opportunities to legally kill these animals actually fuels poaching,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.
According to The Washington Post, the FWS claims that these permits were issued for elephant trophies hunted pre-2014, when the ban was first instituted, but FoA does not find this argument convincing.
US President Donald Trump and his Department of Interior Affairs Secretary Ryan Zinke halted the reversal of the ban in November, days after the FWS announced it would life the Obama-era ban.
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