Trump wrote that he would be “very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.”
It was not immediately clear whether the reference to “any other animal” might mean he is also reconsidering his administration’s separate lifting of import bans on lion trophies last month. That decision received little attention at the time but has since come under fire as the elephant decision received wide attention.
The president’s abrupt reversal Friday means that elephants shot for sport in Zimbabwe and Zambia cannot be imported by American hunters as trophies.
“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts,” Trump wrote Friday evening on Twitter. “Under study for years. Will update soon with [Interior] Secretary [Ryan] Zinke. Thank you!”
That halted a decision by his own U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday to end a 2014 government ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Under U.S. law, the remains of African elephants, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, can be imported only if federal officials have determined that hunting them benefits the species more broadly.