Delta Air Lines Bans Shipments Of Big Game Trophies

UPDATE: United Airlines and American Airlines have also announced bans on shipping the “big five” of wild animal trophies as freight.


Following the recent news about and backlash against a Minnesota man who killed a beloved lion during a paid hunt in Africa, Delta Air Lines says the company is banning shipments of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide.

Reports of a dentist who’s accused of luring a lion named Cecil from a national park in Zimbabwe and killing him has caused uproar worldwide. Hunters like him won’t be able to send trophies of their exploits back home — or to anywhere else, for that matter — on Delta from now on.

Delta says the shipment ban on those animals will be effective immediately, noting that before this new rule, “the company’s “strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species.”

The airline might revise the ban to include other animal trophies, after reviewing acceptance policies “with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”

Delta is the last major holdout among a group of carriers who announced they’d change their rules about transporting hunting trophies last week, reports the New York Times.

Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas all said last week they’d ban transport of trophy-hunting kills, after a petition called for them to revise their policies. They joined South African Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa and British Airways. South African Airways the first to kick off the ban movement in April.

Delta stood alone and last to switch, as it’s the only American carrier with direct service between the United States and countries in Africa.

Elsewhere in animal trophy news, the Huffington Post notes that Cecil’s killing prompted senators to draft a bill called the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act 9 [PDF]that would further restrict the import of hunting trophies: it would include species that have been proposed for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Right now, the law only protects species whose status on the list has already been finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That process can take over a year to complete.

So if the Minnesota dentist wanted to go hunt another lion like Cecil and bring his remains back home, this law would mean he’d need a special permit directly from the U.S. secretary of the interior in order to import an animal trophy.

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