On Wednesday, 20th March 2024, an urgent appeal was sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to U.S. Minister of the Interior to implement an immediate ban on the import of elephant trophies from Africa, after US citizens were found responsible for the killing of some of Africa’s last big tuskers.

The appeal from members of the Pro Elephant Network was endorsed by concerned wildlife conservation organisations and individuals from around the world.

The African Elephant was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1978. At the time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a rule under section 4(d) of the ESA to regulate the import and certain interstate commerce of the species in the United States.

Section 4(d) of the ESA provides the Secretary of the Interior with broad discretion to publish appropriate regulations tailored to the specific conservation needs of a species. The 4(d) rule has been amended multiple times to address changing threats to African elephants. The fourth and most recent amendment, made in 2016, was in response to increased poaching of elephants for ivory and led to a near-total ban on the trade in ivory in the United States.

In 2021, the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) was classified as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Amboseli population of savanna elephants includes adult males with some of the largest tusks on the African continent due to the particular genetic makeup of these elephants and the many years of protection they have been afforded from trophy hunting and poaching.

In late 2023, however, two adult males from the Amboseli population, with tusks reportedly weighing over 100 lbs. were shot south of the border in Tanzania, ending a 30-year trophy hunting moratorium in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area. A third elephant was shot in the same area in late February 2024 and, as of 10 March, a further three licenses are said to have been granted putting the integrity of the Amboseli elephant population in serious jeopardy.

Introduction to the Pro Elephant Network

The Pro Elephant Network (PREN) consists of a global community of diverse individuals and organisations, united in their common concern for Nature, their deep association with the natural world and their commitment to apply their experience for the greater good.

These individuals and organisations embrace expertise from both within Western academies (including the fields of science, conservation, animal welfare, human and non-human rights, philosophy and ethics, advocacy, economics, community leadership, writing, the media, social justice and the law) and the indigenous paradigm.

PREN provides a strong framework for cooperation and networking and aims to end and reverse the impacts of harmful practices towards Elephants including but not limited to capture, imprisonment, captive breeding, abuse, training, exhibition, commercial contact and trade in live Elephants and body parts. Employing evidence- based information, PREN promotes the intrinsic value and self-determination of free-living elephants for the purpose of ending all exploitation of elephants.