African elephants gain new Endangered Species Act protections

By Michael Doyle | 03/29/2024 01:24 PM EDT

But the Biden administration’s long-awaited rules are fueling fierce debates over protection of the species both at home and abroad.

An African elephant drinking water.

An African elephant drinking water from a pool in Kruger National Park in South Africa on July 8, 2013. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Fish and Wildlife Service finalized new rules Friday intended to strengthen Endangered Species Act protections for threatened African elephants.

After sifting through more than 130,000 often-passionate public comments, the agency announced the rule updates that will affect trophy hunters, U.S. zoos and African nations, among others.

“Our actions today will help support range countries’ efforts to manage and conserve African elephant populations and will further protect African elephants that are imported to the United States,” FWS Director Martha Williams said in a statement.


Williams added that the agency is optimistic that “with this final rule and by continuing to work in partnership with range countries, wild African elephant populations will be sustainable into the future.”