Judge keeps intact ban on importation of African elephant trophies


By Michael Doyle, Miami Herald

Date Published

There will be no forgetting this: A federal judge on Friday declined to lift a moratorium on the importation of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

In a 12-page decision, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected pleas by Safara Club International for a preliminary injunction that would lift the moratorium imposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced the import suspension, lasting through 2014, in early April. Officials cited a “significant decline” in the elephant population, and cited in Tanzania “questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance” that has led to “in uncontrolled poaching.”

Safara Club sued, claiming the moratorium harmed the recreational, conservationist, and economic interests of its members.

“The record includes declarations from two hunters who began elephant hunts before April 4, 2014, shot and killed elephants after that date, but were prevented from importing their trophies, such as the hides and tusks, because of the suspensions,” Jackson recounted.

Safari Club further trumpeted claims, according to Jackson, that “other members with hunts planned for later in the year have not yet decided whether to cancel their trips or not.”

Jackson said this wasn’t sufficient to support a preliminary injunction.

“Notwithstanding the ‘great emotional significance’ of an elephant trophy, hunters may still engage in the core recreational activity of hunting. So while the ‘full enjoyment of the hunt’ may be diminished, it has not been eliminated,” Jackson reasoned, adding that “it is worth noting that a hunter must successfully shoot an elephant in order to garner a trophy worth importing.”

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