On Monday, a little over a week after public outrage peaked over the death of Cecil the lion, Delta Airlines—the only American airline with direct routes between the U.S. and countries in Africa—announced a ban on transporting trophy kills.
The New York Times published a statement from Morgan Durrant, a Delta spokesman:
“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.”
Last week, airlines including Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas all signaled that they would ban the transport of hunting trophies; earlier this year, South African Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and British Airways pledged to refuse all big game trophies as cargo. According to reports, South African Airlines later lifted this ban.
According to the Times, Delta acted following pressure from customers, activists, and a Change.org petition with 395,245 signatures. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement:
“Lions, elephants and the other species that make up the Africa Big Five belong on the savanna, not on the walls and in home museums of wealthy people who spend a fortune to kill the grandest, most majestic animals in the world. Delta has set a great example, and no airline should provide a get-away vehicle for the theft of Africa’s wildlife by these killers.”
Also on Monday, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, a “Cecil the Lion” Beanie Baby was announced by toymaker Ty; all profits from sales will go to WildCRU, the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of University of Oxford in Oxford, England. “Hopefully, this special Beanie Baby will raise awareness for animal conservation and give comfort to all saddened by the loss of Cecil,” said Ty Warner, the company’s founder.
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