The impact of the death of Zimbabwe’s famed lion Cecil is continuing to ripple across the globe. It now looks like a number of airlines are responding to the public outcry and altering their stance on the shipping of big game killed by trophy hunters.
Delta is currently the only American Airline that offers direct service to South Africa – obviously making it a go-to for wealthy big game hunters – and on Monday issued a statement that they will no longer be transporting five types of big game trophy kills.
Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight. Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.
Lion, elephant, and rhinoceros kills have all come under harsh scrutiny on social media in recent years and the populations of each species have dwindled over the past several decades. Several of the continent’s largest wildlife reserves have lost up to 60% of their big game since 1970.
The push to reform the transport of these animals came about after a massive online petition gathered some 400,000 signatures asking the company to discontinue the practice. While it is to be applauded that Delta stepped up to the plate for wildlife, it should be noted that the petition was started by Delta Diamond member Chris Green, who has more than 650,000 miles under his belt with the airline. After all, Delta wants to keep its flyers happy and continue to make a profit.
While Delta might be the only American airline directly servicing South Africa, a number of other airlines also issued statements declaring their stance on the practice of transporting animal carcasses. British Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Air Canada all issued statements regarding their policies or change in policies. Even American Airlines, an airline that doesn’t even service the continent of Africa said they will no longer be in the business of transporting wealthy hunters man cave decorations.
Oddly enough, South African Airways recently lifted its ban on the transport of dead animals. The company had banned customers from transporting rhino, elephant, and lion bodies earlier this year, but changed its policies and now seems to be cool with shipping out their country’s dead wildlife.
“The embargo has been lifted” SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg Business’ questions, without giving a reason.