African Trophy Hunter Indicted for Violating Endangered Species Act
May 22, 2013

A federal grand jury in Florida has indicted Charles Kokesh on charges he violated the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act by selling two African elephant tusks and for making false accounts of wildlife related to that sale, according to the Justice Department.

Federal law prohibits the commercial use and sale of sport-hunted African elephant trophies, even if the trophies are legally hunted and imported.

The three count indictment alleges that Kokesh legally imported a sport-hunted African elephant trophy mount from Namibia, but then illegally sold the two tusks, from New Mexico to a buyer in Florida. The sale price was approximately $8,100, to be paid in a combination of currency and guns. After the sale, Kokesh allegedly falsely described told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the sale involved a shipment to an appraiser in anticipation of a donation to a non-profit group.

African elephants are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Both the United States and Namibia are signatories to CITES. African elephant populations in Namibia are listed in Appendix II of CITES, which includes species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now, but may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is strictly regulated. Since 2000, the Namibian African elephant listing has specified that the species cannot be used for commercial purposes.