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DelBene, WA Members to Trump: Allowing Import of Elephant Trophies Sends a Terrible Message to the World

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Washington, D.C., November 16, 2017 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) today led House members of Washington’s delegation in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to reinstate President Obama’s ban of importing elephant trophies into the United State from Zimbabwe and Zambia. This week, the president reversed this critical protection for African elephant, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision. The United States must continue to lead efforts to end illegal trafficking and encourage countries around the world to conserve and protect our precious wildlife,” the letter stated. “The decision to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia undermines these efforts, and would send a terrible message to the rest of the world.”

DelBene’s letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer and Pramila Jayapal.

DelBene has supported the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, the Global Anti-Poaching Act and the Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants and Rhinoceros (TUSKER) Act to stop the killing of species proposed to be listed as threatened or endangered.

Full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We strongly urge you to reconsider your Administration’s decision to reverse critical protections for elephants that would allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

For years, the United States has been a leader in promoting conservation both at home and abroad. Threatened or endangered species should not be killed for sport. As the second-largest market for a nearly $10 billion illegal trade in endangered wildlife products, the United States has an obligation to end illegal trafficking.

Protecting wildlife has been a bipartisan effort in the past, as it was President Nixon who passed the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Additionally, in March of 1973, the United States, along with 80 other countries, came together to finalize the text of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a global agreement designed to protect endangered species. CITES entered into force in 1975 and currently has 183 signatories. The United States has also fought to include stronger conservation provisions in our trade agreements since the historic May 10 Agreement, which requires our trade agreements to incorporate a specific list of multilateral environmental agreements.

The decision to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia undermines the bipartisan progress that’s been made over the course of several decades, and would send a terrible message to the rest of the world where much work still remains. The Government of Zimbabwe, for example, has not done an adequate job of protecting its wild elephant population. In recent years, Zimbabwe’s elephant population has declined by over 6% according to the Great Elephant Census project. Additionally, in 2017 and 2015, there were several reports of young elephants being captured from the wild in Zimbabwe and flown to China. The timing of your decision is especially puzzling, given the recent political turmoil in Zimbabwe. The military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest and seized control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. Given its current political instability, and long record of corruption, Zimbabwe can hardly be trusted to put any revenue gained through trophy hunting back into conservation efforts.

Once again, we strongly urge you to reconsider your decision. The United States must continue to lead efforts to end illegal trafficking and encourage countries around the world to conserve and protect our precious wildlife.

Sincerely,

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