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The Trump administration has reversed Obama's ban on importing the body parts of elephants killed by trophy hunters, just months after the US President branded the cruel sport a 'horror show'.
Back in November, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it would list a ban on elephants imported from Zimbabwe and Zambia - arguing that it could help conservation efforts.
However, following public outcry, Trump had to intervene, tweeting:
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.
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Fast forward just months later, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has issued a letter - dated 1 March - that announces importing elephant trophies will be approved on a 'case-by-case basis'.
According to the Independent, Zinke has spoken privately about Trump, calling him several times to discuss what they should do about elephant trophies.
"The Trump administration is trying to keep these crucial trophy import decisions behind closed doors, and that's totally unacceptable," said Tanya Sanerib, who is the international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
"Elephants aren't meant to be trophies, they're meant to roam free."
Zinke and Trump's two adult sons are known trophy hunters - with Donald Trump Jr coming under fire after a photo surfaced of him holding the bloody severed tail of an elephant he reportedly killed in 2011.
Jimmiel Mandima, who works for non-profit conservation organization African Wildlife Foundation, has said that he doesn't see the new process as lifting the ban entirely - rather taking into account the many differences among African nations regarding trophy hunting.
He told NBC News: "My assumption is the recognition of the different circumstances under which the hunting would take place."
However, he has also said that the agency has not been transparent, and that there still remain various questions from those working in conservation, adding: "The confusion is not helpful.
"We need more information about the criteria that's going to be used, we don't know that yet.
"It has not been shared, which is, therefore, confusing to us."
NBC News reports that an agency spokesperson refused to give specifics about the following steps - citing ongoing litigation - but did say: "The president has been very clear in the direction that his administration will go."
According to the United Nations, 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012, while the population of forest elephants declined by around 62 percent between 2002 and 2011.
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