Federal Judge Upholds Ban on Elephant Trophies

In April 2014, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was suspending imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe through the remainder of 2014. The Service noted: “Questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants in Tanzania. … Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicized poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege.”

The moratorium did not sit well with Safari Club International, which sought a preliminary injunction to block it. Safari Club claimed that the inability to import trophies irreparably harmed the vital interests of its members, depriving them of the “full enjoyment of the hunt.” (The irreparable harm to the dead elephant was not directly addressed, although the Club did claim an interest in “sustainable use conservation.”)

In June, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled against the Safari Club’s motion, noting that the import suspension does not prohibit anyone from hunting, and that the inability to “bring home a particularly prized souvenir” of the hunt does not represent “irreparable harm” so as to justify an injunction overturning the ban.

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