After the killing of a Zimbabwean lion by a Minneapolis dentist, an incident that was decried worldwide, Delta Airlines announced that it will not permit passengers to carry hunting trophies as baggage if they come from endangered species.
In a statement posted on its website, the airlines said, “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.”
Delta’s latest moved comes weeks after a beloved lion Cecil was lured out from the Hwange National Park and fatally shot by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Police received the animal’s decapitated head last week, which had been kept in the home of Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter connected with the case.
According to The Atlantic, several other airline companies – including British Airways, Emirates, and Lufthansa – also said they were enforcing similar changes in light of the outrage over Cecil the lion’s killing.
American Airlines also announced Monday that it will ban the transportation of animal trophies.
Effective immediately, we will no longer transport buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion or rhino trophies.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) August 4, 2015
South African Airways implemented the ban in April after a cargo marked as machine parts, but which contained elephant tusks, was found during a stop in Australia. However, reports have emerged since then that the airlines has lifted the ban and now allows shipping of animal trophies.
As Cecil was shot inside the park premises and was collared with a GPS device, Zimbabwe officials say that Palmer will face poaching charges. Bronkhorst has had his license suspended.
(Also read: Jimmy Kimmel Tears Up Talking About Cecil The Lion)
Palmer had paid in excess of $50,000 for the hunt. He said in an earlier statement that he did not know the animal he shot was Cecil.
“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” Palmer said.
Conservatives and more than 228,500 petitioners on the White House website are urging the U.S. that Palmer be extradited to Zimbabwe to face poaching charges. The killing also prompted U.S. senators to draft the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act, according to which hunters will be disallowed from returning with parts of any species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
(Also read: Cecil The Lion Immortalized In Beanie Babies)
According to The New York Times, Americans constitute the most number of non-African hunters. Conservative Force, a nonprofit group promoting responsible hunting, said that almost 15,000 Americans travel to Africa each year for hunting.
In addition to Zimbabwe, ten African nations issue lion-hunting permits, including South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania.
Statistics suggest that while the African lion population was about 100,000 a century ago, today the number has significantly decreased to 35,000. The plummeting number, especially in the last three years, has promoted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list the lion as a threatened species.
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