California Prohibition on Wildlife Trophies

The Los Angeles Times published an editorial on June 20, 2018, favoring a bill in the California legislature banning possession of African wildlife trophies. Godfrey Harris the Managing Director of the Ivory Education Institute responded with a Letter to the Editor on Friday 22 June 2018:

Again California presumes to tell Africa how to deal with its wildlife assets. In worrying about endangered species, we show no concern for the impoverished humans who live among them without any economic benefit from them. By favoring a California prohibition on wildlife trophies, we invoke the 19th-century colonial attitude of Napoleon III’s premier who said: The higher races have a right over the lower races.

Really? And what would your editorial comment be if the South African parliament passed legislation barring its citizens from traveling to California because the use of recreational marijuana could have deleterious effects on South Africans society? Your outrage toward a country 10,000 miles away interfering in California’s business might demand a boycott of all things South African.

Wildlife in Africa needs Africans to apply sustained and balanced use policies, rather than the failed prohibitions, restrictions and sanctions always favored by Westerners.

The Los Angeles Times editorial is reproduced below.

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A Bill in the California Senate would prohibit the possession of trophies – including heads, parts or skin – of some of the most captivating and exotic animals in Africa.

The bill, SB 1487, would cover the possession of 11 species considered endangered, threatened or vulnerable.

The state of California can’t stop a misguided African government from allowing the hunting of endangered animals in its country. Nor can it stop the U.S. government from permitting the importation of these trophies. But it can and should discourage such hunting by barring hunters from bringing new trophies to California.

Introduced by Sen. Henry Stern (D-Can-oga Park), SB 1487 applies to trophies of African elephants, lions, leopards, and giraffes, as well as the black and white rhinoceros, among other species. Most of those are listed as endangered or threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

U.S. laws already in place govern the sale of the trophies from various animals; this bill is only about possession. The measure would allow anyone in possession of such trophies before Jan. 1, 2019, to keep them. It would also allow trophies to spend up to 30 days in California en route to another state.

Of course, there are laws and treaties in effect worldwide that seek – with mixed results – to preserve species facing threats.

Some African countries, for instance, ban the hunting of certain species. But enough hunting takes place to make conservationists and animal welfare advocates worry for the future survival of these animals.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the importation of animal trophies in order to conserve species. But the agency stirred an outcry last year – even from President Trump – when it said it would lift a ban on the importation of elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Since then, the agency has decided to allow imports on a case-by-case basis. That’s troubling to many conservationists.

Hunters also argue that the huge fees they pay to hunt in these African countries go toward conservation efforts – and therefore they are actually helping preserve species.

That assertion has fallen under attack by various conservation groups, which contend that hunting groups have overestimated the amount contributed to African government conservation funds. This bill allows California to play its part in trying to protect these vulnerable animals from extinction.

 

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