SCI Sues to Challenge African Elephant Importation Ban


SCI Sues to Challenge African Elephant Importation Ban

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yesterday, Safari Club International filed a lawsuit to challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) abrupt and unwarranted bans on the importation of sport-hunted African elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The FWS issued the importation ban on April 4th without consultation of the nations affected or the hunters impacted.

“SCI acted swiftly to develop this lawsuit to correct the errors in the Service’s importation ban decision as well as the harm that the bans will cause to elephant conservation,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “African elephant hunting is an excellent example of how U.S. hunters can make a powerfully positive contribution to the conservation of a species. Congress and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have repeatedly acknowledged that poachers are the threat to elephant conservation, and that hunters offer a solution. It is time for the Service to stop putting obstacles in the way of the legal hunting that plays an invaluable role in international species conservation. Unless the government reverses these bans, they will do more harm than good. We file this suit in the hope that it will require the Service and the Court to reverse this tragic situation.”

The importation bans that SCI’s lawsuit challenges will undermine on-the-ground conservation benefits created by U.S. hunters. For example, three game management areas alone in Zimbabwe produce roughly US $500,000 annually and 85% is applied directly back to local projects for villages. Similarly in Tanzania sport hunting employs approximately 3,700 people and supports over 88,000 families. This revenue provides local communities with conservation resources and incentives and discourages poaching. The loss of this revenue could be devastating to elephant survival.

Without sport-hunted elephant importation, that revenue will dry up. Without the ability to import the most significant symbol of their effort and success, many U.S. hunters will not undertake the huge expense of an elephant hunt. The absence of U.S. hunters will undermine the outfitting industry, which often provides the first line of defense against poaching. It will also reduce conservation dollars derived from the hunting fees and community support for elephant conservation. SCI hopes that its lawsuit will reverse the bans and reinstate these positive impacts.

About SCI’s Lawsuit:

SCI filed its lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia. SCI’s attorneys will be making every effort to obtain a quick resolution of the matter. SCI’s suit attacks the inadequacy of the information on which the FWS based its decision and the Service’s failure to consider the beneficial impacts that U.S. hunters and sport hunting have on African elephant conservation, including the economic deterrent to poaching that is funded by hunters.

For the ban on elephant importation from Zimbabwe, SCI also challenges the FWS’s failure to follow the very procedures the agency set out for announcing and implementing a suspension of sport hunted elephant importation, as well as the Service’s decision to require an enhancement of survival finding before allowing sport hunted elephant importation. SCI’s challenge to the ban on Tanzania’s sport hunted elephant importation also attacks the Service’s failure to notify and include the public in the decision-making and the Service’s use of an erroneous decision-making analysis to determine the impact of sport hunted elephant importation on the survival of the African elephant population in Tanzania.