Los Angeles City Hall saw politicians and actors, among other activists, protest possible reversal of elephant trophy import ban.
Los Angeles City Hall saw politicians and actors, among other activists, protest possible reversal of elephant trophy import ban. Photo via Facebook

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and several dozen animal rights advocates gathered Monday outside Los Angeles City Hall and called on the Trump administration to uphold a ban on importing the remains of elephants shot for sport in two African countries.

The ban on importing trophies of elephants shot in Zimbabwe and Zambia was put in place by the Obama administration in 2014.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife announcement last week that it was lifting the ban was met by a large public outcry, and President Trump subsequently announced on Friday that he was reviewing the decision and may keep the ban in place.

De Leon, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, along with the other animal rights advocates were critical of the Trump administration for even considering reversing the elephant policy.

“Instead of upholding America’s role as a leader for what’s right, he’s selling us out to enrich himself and his friends,” said de Leon, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Dianne Feinstein.

De Leon was joind by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, Candice Kim of the Center for Biological Diversity, supporters from the animal rights organization Social Compassion in Legislation and actors Michelle Rodriguez and Joaquin Phoenix.

Under U.S. law, the remains of African elephants, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, may not be imported, although there is a provision in the act that says remains may be imported if it is determined that hunting them benefits the species more broadly.

A Fish and Wildlife official said in a statement last week that sport hunting “as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

Trump indicated in a Twitter post that he does not buy into the conservation argument.

“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 of any other animal,” Trump wrote.

Kim announced that the center has filed a federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the Trump administration from reversing the ban. She said the organization was moving forward with the legal action despite Trump’s tweets indicating he would likely uphold the ban.

“A tweet is not a law. It provides no protection and a tweet is not an enforceable policy change,” Kim said.

— City News Service

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