Following evaluation of all available information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed the suspension of the import of elephant trophies harvested in Zimbabwe on or after April 4, 2014, the date an interim suspension was announced. In response to that April announcement, the Government of Zimbabwe, non-government organizations, safari outfitters, professional hunter associations, and individuals provided the Service with additional information regarding the management and status of Zimbabwe’s elephant population. The Service has completed its review of this information and is unable to find that the killing of an elephant whose trophy is intended for import into the United States would enhance the survival of the species in the wild.
African elephants are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, which contains a provision that requires the Service to make annual determinations as to whether the import of elephant trophies from each range country would enhance the survival of the species. Only if the Service is able to make such an enhancement finding for a country is the import of an African elephant trophy allowed. While documents provided to the Service identified broad policy goals and objectives for the management of Zimbabwe’s elephants, the information did not identify specific management activities or measurable outcomes.
To make an enhancement finding, the Service evaluates a number of factors including: 1) whether a country has a national or regional management plan; 2) whether that plan is being implemented fully; 3) the status of the elephant population and trends over time; 4) how the sport-hunting program has been incorporated into national/regional management strategies, particularly in light of data on population numbers and trends, levels of utilization (both legal and illegal), and ability to effectively implement hunting programs.
The decision to suspend import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe will be re-evaluated in December 2014, or before if additional information is provided to address data gaps identified in this decision. For the complete text of the enhancement finding, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/enhancement-finding-July-2014-elephant-Zimbabwe.PDF.
For a list of frequently asked questions, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/questions-and-answers-suspension-of-elephant-sport-hunted-trophies.pdf.
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