Delta Air Lines stops shipping hunting trophies

Bowing to pressure from a variety of organizations and individuals, Atlanta-headquartered Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) has agreed to stop transporting the trophies acquired by big-game hunters.

The airline issued the following statement on Aug. 3:

”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.”

 The airline provided no additional comment. However, activist groups were quick to claim credit for the airline’s policy change, pointing to one petition signed by more than 250,000 people urging the Delta and other international airlines to take action following moves by three other major world airlines earlier this year.

"Airlines and other large travel corporations would be foolish to ignore the public reaction to the killing of Cecil the lion, and growing concern about the plight of endangered species,” Paul Ferris, campaigns director for the group, said, noting that other airlines should follow Delta’s move and “stop putting endangered species at risk around the world."

Photo courtesy Andrew Loveridge/
Wildlife Conservation Unit
The death of Cecil at the hands of a Minnesota dentist who allegedly lured the lion out of a national park in Zimbabwe one evening in July, is the latest – and arguably the most visible and controversial – of big game hunts and kills that have fomented the changes in the airlines policies.

With its action, Delta became the first major U.S. carrier to refuse to ship hunting trophies. In April, South African Airways (SAA) became the first airline to announce that it would no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin. In announcing its decision, the carrier cited concerns about the long-term survival of the continent’s wildlife.

Shortly after SAA’s action, Emirates SkyCargo announced it had also banned hunting trophies of elephants, rhinos, tigers and lions from its aircraft. The U.A.E.-based carrier already had a ban on shipments of products and parts of endangered animals and plants listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES), but the new policy banned trophy cargo regardless of whether the animals are protected by CITIES.

Germany’s Lufthansa followed suit in June and announced its decision via its Facebook page.

“The shipment of so-called hunting trophies of endangered species has already been strictly prohibited at Lufthansa Cargo for many years,” a representative named Jens wrote. “In addition, Lufthansa Cargo has decided not to accept any trophies of the African fauna, e.g. lions, elephants and rhinos including legally hunted or legally acquired trophies, for carriage from Africa. With this policy, Lufthansa Cargo is making a further contribution to species and wildlife protection.”

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