Trump delays lifting elephant trophy import ban

Credit: PA

President Trump has announced he is delaying his controversial new policy allowing elephant hunting trophies to be imported to the US until he can review "all conservation facts".

In a tweet he said the lift on the ban was on hold until he was able to "review all conservation facts".

It comes just a day after Trump's administration announced that the 2014 Obama-era ban on importing the body parts of African elephants shot for sport would be relaxed.

Animal rights advocates and environmental groups criticised the decision.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service argued that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill the threatened species would help raise money for conservation programs.

California Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged the administration to reverse the policy, calling it the "wrong move at the wrong time."

Many protesting the lifting of the ban shared a photograph of Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr, stood aside a dead elephant.

The change marks a shift in efforts to stop the importation of elephant tusks and hides, overriding a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration.

The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018.

The world's largest land mammal, the African elephant has been classified as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act since 1979.

Illegal poaching and the destruction of the natural habitat available for the animals to roam has also dwindled by more than half.

As a result, the number of African elephants has shrunk from about 5 million a century ago to about 400,000 remaining. And that number continues to decline each year.