Three US carriers have joined the growing list of airlines which have vowed to end the practice of bringing big game trophies back from Africa. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have all released statements saying trophies collected by big game hunters in Africa will never be allowed aboard their aircraft again.
The ban is a direct result of the slaughter of iconic Zimbabwe lion Cecil by a dentist from the US state of Minnesota last month. In Zimbabwe, there were some allegations that Cecil had been enticed out of a protected reserve so that he could be hunted down.
The photographs of Walter J Palmer with his trophy from the kill went viral and sparked global outrage. Minnesota is a key operational hub for Delta. The statement from the carrier said its ban on the shipment of hunting trophies was effective forthwith.
The statement did not give any reason but just said trophies from the carcasses of African lions, leopards and elephants as well as Cape buffaloes and rhinoceroses were prohibited. The ban was a policy U-turn as a spokesperson said only three months ago that Delta would continue to transport hunting trophies.
This week, the UK’s two biggest airlines claimed they had never allowed hunting trophies as freight cargo aboard their aircraft. A spokesperson for British Airways said the carrier had always followed guidelines mandated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in 1973.
A representative for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Airlines insisted it ran an ethical cargo policy which barred the transportation of hunting trophies plus other endangered animals or creatures destined for research laboratories. Virgin says all airlines should follow suit.