Editor’s note: Our friends at TakePart.com, a news website focusing on stories that matter, just released this story by associate editor Taylor Hill about Delta Airlines banning the transport of so-called “trophies” of animal parts from Africa.
At realfoodtraveler.com, our editors have been stunned and saddened by the news of the recent death of Cecil the lion and of reports of other illegal and senseless killings of magnificent animals. We salute our travel partners at Delta Airlines for this terrific news and urge our readers to let Delta Airlines know that we support their bold decision. We also remind you that take nothing but photographs when you travel. — Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor
Here’s the story from TakePart.com:
Delta, the only United States airline that offers direct flights to South Africa, has just put up a big roadblock for American hunters hoping to bring home animal trophies.
In a statement sent to TakePart on Monday, Delta said it has banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo parts on its flights worldwide.
“Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species,” the airline stated. “Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”
The news follows the recent global outcry over the death of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the Lion at the hands of American dentist Walter Palmer. The allegedly illegal hunt of the beloved 13-year-old lion sparked petitions that have garnered more than 1 million signatures, calling for justice for Cecil, and stricter protections of Africa’s endangered lions.
“There’s no doubt the news of Cecil definitely has altered the game plan for Delta,” 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’s on a Delta plane.”
In May, Green started a petition calling for Delta to stop transporting trophies of Africa’s big gamewildlife. The petition has attracted 394,000 signatures since then.
Green said the signatures were most likely a key to turning Delta’s position as well.
“Imagine if Cecil had been carried on a Delta flight, after they had received almost 400,000 signatures calling for a ban on trophy transport—that’s a public relations nightmare,” he said.
Asked whether Cecil’s death or the petition had a role in the trophy ban, Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said the corporation had no further comment.
Delta’s joins British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, Iberia, Singapore, and Brussels Airlines in banning the transport of big game hunting trophies. Americans constitute 60 percent of oversees big game hunters who travel to Africa each year.
“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,” Green said.