And the exciting news of this week: the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has temporarily banned elephant trophy imports from Tanzania and Zimbabwe, citing (among other problems), “Questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance.”
You may remember our good friends at the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism from such exciting conservation actions as:
“Poachers Decimate Tanzania’s Elephant Herds” (2012)
“Hunter Exposes Elephant Poaching in Tanzania” (2012)
“Ranger corruption ‘impeding global fight against poaching’” (2013)
“Corruption, immorality behind alarming elephant poaching in Tanzania” (2013)
“Tanzania: Corruption in High Office Nourishes Poaching” (2014)
“Tanzania Suspends 21 in Ministry of Natural Resources an Tourism Over Poaching Claims” (2014)
“Tanzania slaughters 11,000 elephants a year for the bloody trade in tusks” (2014)
You might also remember them from our previous post on Why Lion Hunts Are A Bad Idea.
There’s not much to say here — the US Fish & Wildlife Service is spot-on with their assessment: it’s not that hunting is fundamentally wrong, it’s that it’s trophy hunting in most of Africa is fundamentally corrupt (and wildly mismanaged). If this is a first swing from a recently-empowered USFWS under the banner of the new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking? If so, then I’m happy to see Fish & Wildlife show some teeth.
Teeth are important, because Zimbabwe’s hunting season kicks off next month, and would-be trophy holders who’ve had their plans cut short aren’t happy:
“Dear Director [Dan] Ashe:
On behalf of Safari Club International and millions of conservationists worldwide, we were shocked at your decision on Friday, April 4, 2014 to unilaterally ban the importation of sport-hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania. This decision in and of itself shows a fundamental abandonment of the stated goal of “scientific excellence” for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) because this announcement relied solely on anecdotal evidence to make a rash decision with no basis in law, science, or conservation policy. We respectfully request that the FWS rescind its decision banning 2014 sport-hunted elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Tanzania. …
The FWS decision will do nothing to prevent poaching in Africa. If anything, removing the U.S. hunter from the landscape of Africa’s great outdoors will permanently handicap government bodies and communal wildlife administrators in their fight against poachers. Problems with poaching in either Zimbabwe or Tanzania will be exacerbated by this ill-advised ban by the FWS.”
In other words, “NOW what am I supposed to do with that $62,000 one-on-one I booked?!”
Well, after reading through some of the cancellation policies on these safari bookings (see: ‘force majeure’ clause) it looks like your best bet will be to hold fast to
your ankles a staunch belief in the rightness of your endeavor. Be strong in the face of science, reason, humanity, the direct pleas of international groups, and the clear and immediate suffering of local communities. Carry on to Tanzania, complete your hunt, smuggle your trophy home, and we’ll see you at the border.
And should you decide that discretion is the better part of valor, don’t worry; we here at WildlifeSNPiTs will still be playing the world’s saddest song on the world’s smallest ivory piano for you guys. Hang in there.