Since the killing of Cecil the lion on July 1 in Zimbabwe‚ 42 airlines had announced or reaffirmed bans on wildlife trophy shipments on their carriers‚ the Humane Society International (HSI) said on Thursday.
Virgin‚ Delta‚ International Airlines Group (British Airways‚ Iberia‚ Aer Lingus)‚ Air Canada & Jet Blue are among the carriers that have banned shipping lion‚ leopard‚ elephant‚ rhinoceros & Cape buffalo trophies.
South African Airways and shipping giants UPS & Fed Ex have yet to do so.
Andrew Rowan‚ HSI president and CEO said‚ “By putting in place policies that prevent hunters from using their cargo holds to transport Africa’s wildlife‚ these airlines are sending a clear message to the trophy hunting industry that wild animals are worth much more alive than dead.
“We urge all airlines to follow their lead and help save animals like Cecil the lion‚ brutally killed at the hands of a wealthy American hunter.
“As a native South African‚ I urge South African Airways to take a stance against trophy hunting and help bring investments in ecotourism – an investment that is proven to go much further than hunting.”
Wildlife-based ecotourism brought an estimated $34.2-billion in tourist receipts in 2013‚ according to a report by the World Tourism Organisation. Meanwhile a study of nine countries that offer trophy hunting found that‚ in 2011‚ tourism contributed‚ on average‚ 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP)‚ & trophy hunting only 0.09% of GDP.
Following Cecil’s death‚ HSI contacted all 250 airlines requesting that they immediately stop the shipment of trophies of the African Big Five (lion‚ leopard‚ elephant‚ rhinoceros & Cape buffalo).
HSI said that 42 airlines now prohibited shipment of trophies from the African Big Five & other wildlife.
“There’s no doubt the news of Cecil definitely has altered the game plan for airlines,” said Chris Green, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
“Walter Palmer is from Minneapolis—the third largest hub in the U.S. for Delta. It’s not unthinkable to assume he would have chosen to carry a national treasure of Zimbabwe’s back to the state on a Delta plane.”
“Most people participate in these hunts to have the chance to bring their trophy home and brag about it—this is one more roadblock for them,” Chris added.
And even though, the world is waiting on South African Airways to make a difference, several lawmakers in America have already introduced bills to restrict wildlife trophy imports completely… now that the good stuff!