Business, Economics and Jobs

Delta, United, and American Airlines to big game hunters: We're not shipping your 'trophies' anymore

cecil_the_lion.jpg

Cecil the lion in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, in 2010.

Credit:

Daughter#3

Editor's note: This article has been updated.

The fallout from Cecil the lion's death continues.

Delta Airlines announced on Monday that it would no longer ship hunting trophies — as in, dead animal parts — from lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses, and buffaloes. Shortly after Delta's announcement, United Airlines and American Airlines said they were ending big game trophy shipments as well.

The bans are all effective immediately.

“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” Delta's statement read. “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.”

Delta's announcement is an an especially big deal, because, as the New York Times explains, Americans make up the bulk of tourists who travel to Africa to hunt big game, and Delta is the only US airline that operates direct flights to South Africa. 

The bans put Delta, American, and United in the company of several other airlines that have banned big game trophy shipments, including British Airways, Air France, KLM, Singapore Airways, Lufthansa, Air Emirates, Iberia Airlines, IAG Cargo, Qantas. (South African Airways banned trophy shipments early this year, but lifted the ban in July.)

None of the US airlines has said its decision was related to the killing of Cecil. A spokesperson for United said merely, "We felt it made sense to do so.”

Shipping bans can't keep Americans like Walter Palmer — the Minnesota dentist accused of killing Cecil on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe — from traveling to hunt and kill lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceroses and buffaloes. But if the hunters can't fill their trophy rooms with big game carcasses, maybe they'll stay home and hunt deer instead.