The Trump administration began rolling back protections for African lions nearly one month before his administration sparked outrage by reversing an Obama-era ban on trophies from threatened African elephants, reports The Associated Press.
According to the report, Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) began issuing permits on Oct. 20 for lions killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016 and 2018. The agency is currently studying whether to add three Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania to the list.
Previously, only wild lions killed in South Africa were eligible to be imported to the US.
Trump officials said there was no such legal requirement for notifying the public about the policy change on lions.
President Trump took to Twitter this weekend to announce that he was putting his new controversial elephant trophy policy on hold, but he made no mention of lions.
“Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal,” the president tweeted on Sunday.
President Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are big game hunters who have been photographed holding the severed tail of an elephant and posing with a slain leopard.
According to the AP:
In late 2015, the Obama administration added two subspecies of African lion to the list of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. Due to poaching and habitat loss, the number of lions living in the wild is in sharp decline — from an estimated 200,000 a century ago to less than 20,000 today.
The additional protections were added a few months after Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer sparked international outcry by killing Cecil, a beloved 13-year-old lion who lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer paid $54,000 to bow-hunt Cecil on private land just outside the park.
“Keeping elephants and lions alive is a key to economic progress in so many African nations,” said Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “Trophy hunting robs these nations of their greatest resources, diminishing the wildlife-watching experiences of so many tourists. Any U.S. sanctioning of trophy hunting sends a particularly contradictory message at a time when the world has been rallying to save elephants and lions.”