Delta bans big-game trophy shipments

Delta bans big-game trophy shipments
© Bryan Orford

Delta Air Lines is banning the shipment of big-game trophies worldwide following the killing of Zimbabwe’s beloved Cecil the lion, the airline announced Monday.

“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” the company said in an announcement. “Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”

Delta previously allowed such shipments as long as they complied with regulations concerning protected species.

Global outrage has followed the killing of Cecil, a well-known lion in a Zimbabwe national park who was lured off the park, killed and beheaded. Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to kill Cecil. He has said he used local guides and believed he was acting under the rules.
Following the company’s announcement, The Humane Society of the United States called on other major airlines to follow in Delta’s footsteps and adopt policies prohibiting the shipment of big-game trophies.

“Lions, elephants and the other species that make up the Africa Big Five belong on the savanna, not on the walls and in home museums of wealthy people who spend a fortune to kill the grandest, most majestic animals in the world,” President and CEO Wayne Pacelle said in a statement. “Delta has set a great example, and no airline should provide a get-away vehicle for the theft of Africa’s wildlife by these killers.” 

Delta is one of the few U.S. airlines that offers flights directly to Africa. 

Other airlines like British Airways, Air France, KLM, Singapore Airways, Lufthansa, Air Emirates, Iberia Airlines, IAG Cargo and Qantas have issued similar prohibition on trophy animal cargo, according to the website, which has petitioned for the bans. 

"The attraction for trophy hunters is being able to display the animal they butchered when they get home," the website says its petition.

"If airlines stopped putting their profits above conservation by banning their transport, the bottom would drop out of the market," the petition continues. "Tell all global airways to immediately ban the transportation of dead endangered species on their planes." 

- Keith Laing contributed.