Safari Club International recently filed a lawsuit against US Fish and Wildlife (FWS) over their temporary ban on sport-hunted elephant trophies imports from Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Safari Club International (SCI) claims the ban - which will last for the duration of 2014 - is based on inadequate information. They also believe the ban will hurt the elephant sport-hunting industry, and do more harm to conservation efforts than good.
"Without the ability to import the most significant symbol of their effort and success, many US hunters will not undertake the huge expense of an elephant hunt," SCI said in a statement.
SCI said a large portion of those expense go towards conservation efforts to protect African Elephants.
The FWS sees the situation differently.
They announced the temporary ban in early April as a means to protect vulnerable African elephant populations in both countries.
"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," the FWS said in an April 4 press release.
According to National Geographic, the Selous, the largest protected elephant habitat in Africa, has lost 66 percent of its elephant population in the past five years.
As for Zimbabwe, FWS cited a 2013 mass killing of approximately 300 elephants by cyanide poisoning that occurred in the Hwange National Park. They also said that the limited amount of conservation data provided by the Zimbabwean government raises concerns over the future of the country's elephant populations
One thing is clear: African elephant poaching is rampant in both countries, and it's being fueled by the insatiable international ivory trade.
The US recently passed a law that bans ivory imports. Come June, hunters will be limited to two African elephant trophy imports per year.
It's important to note that FWS still allows sport-hunted elephant trophy imports from other African nations, including Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Although, Botswana recently banned sport hunting.
Do you think hunters should be allowed to bring African elephant trophies into the US?