Trump reverses elephant trophy decision, keeps ban

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Conservationists in Kenya have joined their counterparts across the world to condemn a decision by US President Donald Trump to reverse a ban on importation of elephant trophies from two African countries.

Though the change has been delayed until further notice, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow hunters to bring so-called elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe into the U.S.

The move was met with a barrage of criticism from animal rights groups and activists.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., called the Fish and Wildlife Service decision to lift the ban "the wrong move at the wrong time" and in a statement on Friday called on the Trump administration to withdraw it.

Trump tweeted that the policy had been "under study for years".

"President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical", Zinke said in a statement Friday night.

Earlier this week, it emerged that the Trump administration was lifting a ban on importing hunted elephant trophies.

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Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric are themselves big game hunters.

In his statement, Mr Buchanan called the sport hunting of African elephants "shameful" and said the U.S. should support a permanent ban.

The agency said that well-regulated sport hunting as part of a management plan can provide local incentives for conservation and raise money for conservation efforts.

Despite an overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has declined in part because of continued illegal killing, said a report this year by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Where 5 million of the giant pachyderms once roamed African savannahs, there are now just 400,000.

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which advocates for animal rights, applauded the decision to reimpose the ban, but said more needed to be done.

"We should not encourage the hunting and slaughter of these magnificent creatures", Mr Buchanan said. "We need immediate federal action to reverse these policies and protect these awesome animals".

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