In light of the horrifying reversal of the ban by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on allowing import of elephant trophies on a “case by case” basis, this is a critical moment in which New York State should lead by example to enact a ban of all Big Five Animal Trophies (elephant, lion, leopard, black and white rhinoceros, Cape buffalo), Washington and New Jersey have already enacted statutes banning import of trophies of any of the Big Five African animals.
The federal government banned import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania in 2014 because of decimation of the elephant population from trophy hunting in those 2 countries.
It is now New York State’s chance to enact the most stringent ban against all aspects of trophy hunting of the Big Five. Trump has broken his promise to keep the ban on “this horror show” intact after initial worldwide outrage when his administration first proposed ending the ban. At that time, Trump expressed his disbelief that fees paid by trophy hunters to hunt elephants and other species were dedicated to conservation; but instead financed corrupt government officials. Two of his sons have hunted the Big Five proudly posting photographs on the internet of a slaughtered leopard draped around their neck or holding an elephant tail.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service will now again allow slaughter of elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambia. African elephants are endangered. Approximately 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered annually by poachers and trophy hunters. In 1900, approximately 10,000,000 African elephants roamed the continent; currently less than 350,000 remain. This is much less than the critical number for African elephants to survive extinction because female elephants are pregnant for 22 months and nurse for 3 years (which is longer than any other animal); and they cannot reproduce fast enough to replace the drastically diminished numbers of slaughtered elephants.
By allowing trophy hunting on a “case by case” basis, the USFWS will enable the wealthiest to slaughter as many animals as they wish. African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania had been banned in 2014. On July 6,2016, an almost complete ban on commercial ivory trade was passed in the US. Prior to this change, U.S. Fish and Wildlife allowed two trophies per hunter which included the murder of African lions like Cecil who was killed in July, 2015 by American dentist Walter Palmer in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The trophy of this magnificent lion was permitted to be brought back into the US.
Subsequent to the uproar of Cecel’s slaughter, Delta and 44 other airlines banned “Big Five” trophies worldwide as freight. African lions are endangered with their population having decreased by approximately 40% with estimates of only 20,000 remaining in the wild. By allowing USFWS to lift the ban on trophy hunting, Trump is apparently paying his dues to both the NRA and Safari Club International for the estimated 30 million dollars they contributed to his election campaign.
Money collected from trophy hunting ends up in the greedy hands of corrupt leaders like Mugabe - recently ousted after acting first as Prime Minister and the President of Zimbabwe from 1980-2017 ruling the country unethically for 37 years in Zimbabwe. Money collected from trophy hunting and sale of live animals to China and several Arab nations was not spent on conservation; but on personal enrichment. In his final evil act, Mugabe allowed one last sale of baby elephants to Chinese zoos and “sanctuaries”by first using helicopters and planes to herd the babies away from their beloved mothers, kept confined (where some perished) being sold into slavery. Many of these babies died in holding pens, transport, and Chinese captivity for lack of nutrition from their mothers milk (since they nurse for 3 years), from inhumane confinement and/or from a broken heart. Elephants are the most intelligent, compassionate family centered animals on earth.
Consequently, when a coward slaughters an elephant to take home a trophy it impacts the entire herd because they have such a complex close knit caring society.
New York State is the busiest of 18 states designated for ports of entry of animal trophies. From 2005 to 2014, an approximate list of Big Five Trophies imported through New York State is:
1,541 African lions
1,130 African elephants and 83 pairs of tusks
1,169 African leopards
110 African white rhinos and 3 pairs of horns.
The very crucial New York State legislation would ban importation, possession,sale, and transportation in New York State of trophies of the African elephant, lion, leopard, black and white rhino and Cape buffalo.
The United States is the biggest importer of trophy hunted endangered species in the world. In 2016, the US imported 3,249, approximately 60% of the animal trophies from six African countries: Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Since the 2014 ban on importation of African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania over 600 elephants from other African countries were shot with their trophies imported to the US. From 2014-16, over 1,000 leopard trophies were imported to the US from Southern Africa leading to a moratorium on leopard trophy hunting in South Africa since 2016. According to CITES, 182 wild lions and 276 captive bred (“canned hunted”) lions were imported resulting in approximately 43% decline.
It is time for New York State to take the moral, ethical and humane position by passing this extensive ban of every aspect of Big Five trophies.