Friends of Animals and the Zimbabwe Conservation Force are once again stepping up to safeguard elephants in Zimbabwe. The two groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. challenging U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s hurried, irrational decision to reverse its three-year policy on prohibiting U.S. hunters from importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe.

“There is no indication that FWS’ previous concerns about management, utilization of hunting revenues or poaching levels and prevention have been addressed or fixed by Zimbabwe’s new Elephant Management Plan,” said Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “Also, FWS issued the 2017 Decision despite the political instability in Zimbabwe, unchanged hunting quotas in the country and mounting evidence on the negative impacts of trophy hunting. Furthermore, FWS failed to give the public notice of, and an opportunity to comment on, the new rule and change in policy. 

“Zimbabwe is one of the worst wildlife managers on earth, and that hasn’t changed.”

Zimbabwe’s overall elephant population has declined 11 percent since 2005, and in some parts of the country by 74 percent.

Last year, a federal judge upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2014 decision to ban imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe—a case that Friends of Animals and Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force intervened in—striking down a challenge brought by the Safari Club and the NRA.

“Friends of Animals will not tolerate a gift to the Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, which for decades have spent substantial money perpetuating that myth that trophy hunting is the best way to fund sustainable wildlife conservation in Africa, blatantly ignoring the evidence to the contrary that continues to pile up. Studies show that increased opportunities to legally kill these animals actually fuels poaching,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.

Friends of Animals has drafted legislation known as Cecil’s Law that would ban the importation, sale, possession and transportation of African elephants, lions, leopards and black and white rhinos and their body parts. It has been introduced in Connecticut and New York.


Friends of Animals is an international animal protection organization founded in New York in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world.