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Understanding Trump's Lift on Elephant Trophies
Stories  |  03.21.18
Understanding Trump's Lift on Elephant Trophies

Looking through the shots from my last trip to Africa, I can’t help but wonder about the future of wild elephants like the ones I photographed. I’ve never understood how anyone could think that an ivory trinket or a stuffed corpse is worth more than the life of a majestic elephant. But earlier this month, the Trump administration quietly made the decision to lift the U.S. import restrictions on elephant trophies, horrifying conservationists and animal lovers around the world.

The United States seems to be regressing in its policies as much of the world works progressively to protect these gentle giants. Over the past decade, countries across the globe — including China, the world’s largest consumer of ivory — have agreed to impose bans against all ivory imports. In November 2017, it seemed that President Trump would continue the U.S. ban when he referred to big-game trophy hunting as a “horror show” in a tweet. Six months later, however, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that, thanks to legal action from the NRA and Safari Club International, it was reversing the ban put in place by President Obama.

Although the commercial trade of ivory has been illegal since 1989, it is difficult to regulate and enforce, allowing black markets to flourish in countries like Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. While China’s efforts to enforce the ivory ban are commendable, unregulated cross-border trade causes the number of murdered elephants to increase even as the demand for ivory diminishes. By allowing the import of elephant trophies, the United States is supporting the continued slaughter of elephants for their tusks.

We must all work to support elephant conservation. First and foremost, refuse to buy or sell ivory products. Second, add your name to this petition urging President Trump to re-instate the ban. Lastly, support organizations that protect elephants and other endangered wildlife like our partner, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. If you’re interested in helping DSWT through art and commerce, check out our collection of elephant prints, which directly support elephant protection and conservation.


NPR: Trump Administration Quietly Decides...
CNN: Hong Kong Seizes Largest Ivory Haul...
BBC News: Laos is 'World's Fastest Growing'....
CNN: Esmond Bradley Martin killed
CS Monitor: Hong Kong's Ivory Ban...
NY Times: U.S. Lifts Ban...
CNBC: Trump Administration Once Again...
Newsweek: Elephant Trophy Hunting...
National Geographic: China Shuts Down Its...
Newsweek: Trump Administration Makes Elephants... Petition: Ban Elephant Ivory and Tusks...

Images (top to bottom):

Foraging Family, Lewa Series, No. 14
Wrinkles, DSWT Series, No.11 (Framed)
Young Tusks, Lewa Series, No. 2
Foraging Family, Lewa Series, No. 14 (Framed)