President Donald Trump has decided to suspend the import of elephant hunting trophies, just one day after a ban was relaxed by his administration.
Reversing a 2014 Obama-era ban, imports of trophies from elephants legally hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe had been set to resume.
However, on November 17, President Trump tweeted the change was on hold until he could “review all conservation facts”.
The move to relax the ban had sparked immediate anger from animal activists.
Bridget Bardot said in a letter sent to President Trump: “Your shameful actions confirm the rumors that you are unfit for office.”
Protests spread on social media with many sharing images of Donald Trump’s sons posing with dead animals during their hunting trips in Africa.
One photo shows Donald Trump Jr. holding the amputated tail of a dead elephant.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had argued that hunting fees could aid conservation of the endangered animals.
According to experts, populations of African elephants are plummeting.
Their numbers dropped by about 30% from 2007 to 2014, according to the 2016 Great Elephant Census.
The non-profit group’s report found a population drop of 6% in Zimbabwe alone.
Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in US law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.
In 2015, an American dentist from Minnesota killed the famous Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
Cecil’s death triggered an outrage in the US and Zimbabwe, and briefly forced the hunter into hiding.