One month before the Trump administration sparked outrage by reversing a ban on trophies from threatened African elephants, federal officials quietly loosened restrictions on the importation of heads and hides of lions shot for sport, the AP reports. The US Fish and Wildlife Service began issuing permits Oct. 20 for lions killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia between 2016 and 2018. The agency is also currently studying whether to add three additional countries to the list—Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania. Previously, only wild lions killed in South Africa were eligible to be imported. In two recent tweets, President Trump said he will delay the new policy on allowing elephant trophies, but he made no mention of lions.
Trump, whose adult sons are avid big-game hunters, also expressed skepticism about his own administration's claim that killing threatened animals could help save them by helping raise money for conservation programs. "Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal," the president tweeted on Sunday. Trump weighed in after a strong public backlash against reversing an Obama-era ban on elephant trophies, which became public through a written notification posted in the Federal Register. Officials said there was no such legal requirement for notifying the public about the policy change on lions.