Four US-based airlines have joined the ban on transporting trophy kills as cargo in the midst of the public outcry against the killing of Cecil the Lion. On Monday, Delta announced that they would support the ban and Tuesday, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic followed, all confirming that they would no longer allow trophy kills as cargo. Foreign airlines Qantas, KLM, Air France, Iberia, IAG Cargo, and Singapore Airlines had all previously changed their policies.
The airlines will no longer transport the prized “big five” species that trophy hunters pay massive amounts to bag: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and buffalo. Though the bans on transporting kills may put a dent in trophy hunters’ appetites, most kills are sent by ship, making it possible for the hunts to continue almost unabated.
Even before the killing of Cecil, activists had been calling for airlines to ban the shipment of endangered species killed by hunters. One Change.org petition, started by a Delta customer, had almost 400,000 signatures before the scandal, and a SumOfUs.org petition currently has more than 250,000 supporters.
Cecil the Lion was shot illegally in July by Walter Palmer, a Minnesota dentist. Despite his statement that he had thought the kill was legal, people around the world vilified him for his actions. Zimbabwe is calling for his extradition and that of Jan Casimir Seski, a doctor from Pennsylvania, who is suspected of killing a lion in April.