Elephants use their trunks to smell for possible danger in the Tsavo East national park, Kenya. The Trump administration is lifting a federal ban on the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport. File picture: Karel Prinsloo/AP

Washington - The US Fish and Wildlife Service under US President Donald Trump has decided to allow the remains of elephants hunted for sport in Zimbabwe to be imported into the United States, reversing a ban on such imports introduced in 2014.

Zimbabwe's elephants are listed as "threatened" under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The service justified the change by saying the ban, imposed under former president Barack Obama, was based on limited information available at the time.

"The facts on the ground have changed and improved" regarding the management and status of Zimbabwe's elephant population, it said, adding that sport hunting can provide benefits to conservation as part of a sound wildlife management programme.

"We are now able to find that African elephant trophy hunting in Zimbabwe will enhance the survival of the species in the wild," the service said. Money raised through hunting permits could boost conservation efforts, it added.

The Zimbabwe National Elephant Management Plan, adopted in January 2016, lays out clear objectives to facilitate more systematic management for African elephants, the serivice said.

The service also said non-governmental organizations, safari outfitters, professional hunter associations and individuals provided other updated information on the management of African elephants in the country prior to its decision to lift the ban.