Saving the Elephants
Trump has “quietly decided,” (in the words of the London Daily Mail) to allow the importation of the body parts of African elephants shot dead by “sportsmen,” including his sons, who prey on big game in Africa. Importation from Zimbabwe and Zambia had been prohibited by the Obama administration in 2014. Now the two-legged predators will be allowed to bring their blood trophies into the U.S. on a “case-by-case” basis. Never mind that Trump had earlier referred to big game hunting as a “horror show.”
Never mind that the African elephant has been classified as threatened since 1979 under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Never mind that the number of African elephants has dwindled from 5 million a century ago to about 400,000 today.
Never mind that as many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012. (Source, United Nations)
And never mind that elephants are intelligent, sensitive, and highly socialized with identifiable family structures and ritualized behavior surrounding the death of one of their own.
Encountering them in their natural habitat was the highlight of my trip to Africa. Driving through large flat fields strewn with elephant bones in Zimbabwe, our guide explained what we were seeing. “When an elephant dies,” he said, “the rest of the group stays with the body for a couple of days as they mourn the death. Eventually, they move on and predators pick the carcass clean. When nothing but bones are left, the troop returns and scatters them. That’s what we’re seeing here.”
To kill these creatures for sport is beyond abomination. I don’t usually quote myself on these pages, but here’s an episode I wrote up after an unforgettable trip:
“It was mid-afternoon and after an early morning drive and tasty lunch, I’d fallen asleep in our tent at the edge of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. I awakened to a slow, rhythmic, but unfamiliar sound—a plodding plop, squish…plop, squish…plop, squish…plop, squish. Heavy, stolid, deliberate.
“ ‘Shh,’ my companion said as, barely awake, I bolted up. ‘Look,’ he whispered, pointing. I peered through the screen at the entrance of the tent to see an elephant munching his way towards us as he fed on the abundant grasses. He stopped stock-still, his trunk against the railing that marked the front of our tiny veranda, and gazed at us as though inquiring what we were doing there. I slithered off the bed, dug the camera out of my backpack and started shooting.
“It was the pinnacle moment in a trip full of highlights: the sunset drive where we sat mesmerized by herds of elephants backlit by a glowing sun at a shallow watering hole; the leopard who lounged contentedly—having feasted on his latest kill—while we pulled him in with telephoto lenses for classic close-up pictures; the night ride when we saw our one and only cheetah, surveying prey on the plains from his perch on a rise in the landscape. …”
For more, click here.
To see the Trump boys in action, click here
March 7, 2018
My Big Game Trophies
(they look quite lively, hanging on the wall)