Following his decision on Wednesday to lift the ban on importing elephant remains, President Donald Trump has sparked further outrage by rolling back regulations which protect lions from hunters.
The regulations, which came into place following the outrage over the death of Cecil the Lion in 2015, prevented big game hunters from bringing trophies from animals killed in parts of Africa back to the US.
Trump’s administration has however lifted the ban, sparking fears from conservationists that trophy hunters may begin slaughtering lions to import their grisly trophies.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed lions as endangered in 2016 and tighter restrictions were placed on the imports of hunting trophies.
Despite this ABC News report the US Fish and Wildlife Service began issuing permits to import lion trophies again on October 20 this year.
The Wildlife Service claims it made its decision after deciding regulating hunting could help fund conservation, despite critics saying all it will do is fuel demand for wild animal products.
The president of The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, wrote on his blog, according to The Guardian:
The Interior Department and the government of Zimbabwe (whoever is in charge) are rolling out the red carpet for the next Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who lured a famous and beloved lion, Cecil, out of a national park and shot and wounded him with an arrow.
The outrage factor is almost beyond compare for us at The HSUS.
Pacelle also noted, following the death of Cecil the lion, more than forty airlines banned the transport of wildlife trophies on their planes.
He went on to hint the Humane Society would sue the federal government for promoting trophy hunting, writing:
African elephants and African lions drive billions of dollars of economic activity in Africa. But they drive that activity only when they are alive.
Killing them deducts from their populations, diminishes wildlife-watching experiences for others, and robs the countries of Africa of its greatest resources.
The folly that the killing helps lions and elephants is just that ― pure folly. We’ll see the agency in court.
The news follows Donald Trump’s administration’s decision to lift the Obama-era ban on imports of elephant remains from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The announcement was condemned by conservationists who claimed it as a ‘backward step’ and warned the elephant population was in decline due to poaching and a reduction in their territory.