Cape Town - Delta Air Lines, said to be the main transporter of hunting trophies out of South Africa to the US, will no longer transport lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies.
The airline issued a statement saying, “Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight.”
Prior to this ban, Delta said its strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species and confirmed it will review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.
READ: Illegal kill of Cecil the lion sparks worldwide call for trophy hunting ban
Three months ago in May, the world's largest airline, Emirates issued an outright ban on hunting trophy cargo, sending the hunting industry into a tailspin, as national carrier South African Airways also issued a temporary embargo. SAA has since overturned its decision, citing the DEA’s implementation of "additional compliance measures for permits and documentation".
British Airways has also issued a statement affirming its standpoint against the transportation of hunting trophies of endangered species.
“We have never carried hunting trophies from endangered species. We have always adhered to the rules set out by the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty which puts in place safeguards for hundreds of species. In addition we have a total ban on any form of hunting trophy,” said BA spokesperson Stephen Forbes.
READ: 7 Tough questions about the hunting of Cecil, the big lion of Hwange that need answering
At the time of the Emirates and SAA decision, Chris Green, Chair of the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee created a Change.org petition calling for the End the Transport of Exotic Animal Hunting Trophies, specifically asking the CEO of US- Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, Richard Anderson, to join the list of airlines refusing to carry hunters’ exotic trophies.
More than 400 000 signatures were added to the successful petition, which has also seen a number of other airlines follow suit, including Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, Iberia, Singapore and Brussels Airlines.
“The sad recent news surrounding the illegal poaching of Cecil the Lion outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has captured the hearts of humans across the globe, and thrust the grisly practice of trophy hunting back into the international spotlight," said Green in a statement commending the success of the call for Delta Airlines to issue a ban.
READ: Hunting industry told to clean up its act after protected lion killed in shock 'legal hunt'
"The outpouring of attention and sentiment was a wake-up call demonstrating how many people care about the plight of endangered animals.”
“Today’s action by Delta Air Lines shows that corporations can see the value in being compassionate, even when it potentially could cost them some income to do so. I sincerely want to commend and thank Delta CEO Richard Anderson and his fellow Delta executives for taking this courageous stand and doing the right thing to protect our precious world wildlife resources.”
Green has since started a new petition asking the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to protect African lions under the Endangered Species Act – click here to take at the #JusticeforCecil petition.
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