John J. Jackson, III, of Conservation Force responds to ABC News, Huffington Post and CNN:
Regarding recent stories by ABC News, Huffington Post and CNN, the media has this all wrong. President Trump has little if anything to do with the legal pleadings, sworn declarations and documents filed in the elephant lawsuit. The defendant Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service had to file response briefs in the SCI/NRA case that overturned the original 2014 suspension. When appealed, the Circuit Court held that the procedure used by FWS when it made a negative enhancement finding and “suspended” the imports in 2014, was invalid. That, incidentally, was the same procedure used since the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973. The documents filed in court confirm that the defendants are complying with the court holding by withdrawing the negative enhancement finding that SCI/NRA challenged. It simultaneously withdrew the original positive finding that had allowed the imports since 1997 instead of letting it stand and issuing import permits as SCI/NRA is asking the Court to order. The fact FWS has explained to the court and the public on its web what procedure it will now use to make enhancement findings and grant or deny permits is a necessary response to the court. It is not a positive enhancement finding. The positive enhancement findings that were in place before the suspension are withdrawn instead of again issuing import permits because the longstanding procedure is no longer deemed legal. The FWS has declared its new procedure. It remains to be seen what the court accepts and orders. In short, do not read too much into the legal wrangling.
Much more important is the status of the elephant and other game while this court fighting is ongoing in the USA. Zimbabwe has the second largest elephant population in the world and the most up-to-date National Elephant action Management Plan. Most of its elephant are overpopulated. It is home of the renown CAMPFIRE Program with 800,000 families that tolerate elephant because of their participation, income, meat, and many incentives arising from the tourist elephant hunting conservation strategy established by the foremost experts in the world. Zimbabwe is one of the only proven elephant conservation successes. The livelihoods and welfare of those people, including over one million children, is riding on this nonsense. The elephant will not survive without the habitat, local rural incentives, management budget revenue, poaching control and much more that arises from the conservation hunting strategy that has been found to be working for decades by the FWS.