General Newsflashes


Friday, 04 November 2016 14:47

Africa: First Elephant Import Permits Granted by USFWS

November 2016 - Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief, and Justin Jones, Assistant Editor

We recently received the much anticipated news that the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has begun to issue import permits for African elephant trophies. USFWS granted a Hunting Report subscriber an import permit for two elephant hunted in South Africa in April and May 2016. We have also confirmed that a permit has been issued to import an elephant taken in Namibia.

We have been following this story since USFWS announced that it would require import permits from threatened-listed elephant under a revised 4(d) rule, which went into effect on July 6, 2016 (see article 3815). All elephant trophies imported after that time require a permit, regardless of when they were taken.

In the coming weeks, we will glean whatever information is available from the permits already issued and learn what may be in store for future applications. For the moment, we know that USFWS is moving through current applications. The permit issued for the two elephants taken in the Limpopo province also suggests that USFWS has found that South Africa's elephant management program meets its requirements for enhancement of the species as required by the 4(d) rule, and the same can be said of Namibia.

Hunters have had a reasonable expectation of getting permits for South Africa and Namibia elephant, since the USFWS had spoken favorably of elephant management in those countries before the new permitting requirement went into effect. The situation for elephant from Zimbabwe and Tanzania is complicated by previous USFWS findings. For what it's worth, we have not heard of permits from those countries being denied.

Another subscriber (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote us to add, "My wife is one of the hunters being assisted by Conservation Force with an application for a USFWS import permit for elephant. Her elephant was taken in early September in the Tsholotsho area in Zimbabwe, which is part of the CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources) program.

"The elephant was taken on the border of Hwange National Park, which has an estimated population of 45,000 to 50,000 elephants, a number far exceeding the carrying capacity of the park. The vegetation has been hammered there. As a result, the elephants cross the fence in the early evening and go back in the early morning simply to get better browse (and the locals' crops). Most of the elephants taken in that area are hunted either coming from or going back to the park.

"One of the underlying reasons for the creation of CAMPIRE was to establish a community-based natural resource management program and to allocate the ownership of renewable resources to indigenous people in conservation-protected areas. Vehicles associated with the Tsholotsho ward were very much in evidence on our safari, and it was clear to me that the various councils are invested in the enhancement of elephant in that area. We saw antipoaching patrols daily. The trophy fee that we paid finds its way back to the council for its use in habitat management. In addition, we had close to 100 villagers take the meat from the elephant."