This is what passes in the Trump Administration for a “distraction”:
The Trump administration plans to allow hunters to import trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States, reversing a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed to ABC News today.
Zimbabwe is currently in a state of martial law.
It's unclear how the current political situation in Zimbabwe could affect this decision, but a blog post from the president of the Humane Society points out that poaching has been a problem in Zimbabwe over the years and that the hunting industry there faces corruption issues.
From ABC News:
Savanna elephant populations declined by 30 percent across 18 countries in Africa from 2007 to 2014, according to the Great Elephant Census published last year, which put their remaining numbers at just over 350,000.
The elephant population declined 6 percent overall in Zimbabwe but dropped by 74 percent within one specific region. Elephants saw "substantial declines along the Zambezi River," in Zambia while other areas of that country were stable, according to the census.
The ban was originally imposed because Zimbabwe, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth, could not show that its management of elephants enhanced the elephant population, nor could they demonstrate any ability to implement or enforce laws designed to protect that population. However the regime did enjoy the influx of cash from “hunting advocacy organizations" shuttling in wealthy Americans eager to “hunt" endangered species and bring their severed body parts home to impress their friends and neighbors:
“It’s a venal and nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society.
That did not deter the Trump Administration:
Even though elephants are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, a provision in the act allows the government to give permits to import these trophies if there is evidence that the hunting actually benefits conservation for that species. The official said they have new information from officials in Zimbabwe and Zambia to support reversing the ban to allow trophy hunting permits.
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