Three major airlines in the United States have banned the shipment of leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo carcasses on behalf of trophy hunters. The ban has come as the result of last month's killing of "Cecil the Lion" in Zimbabwe. The move is being celebrated as an important victory by animal rights activists, environmentalists and ecologists around the world.
Delta Airlines, United Airlines and as of Tuesday, American Airlines, have formed a pact to stop the transportation of "big five" or big game animals killed in Africa. The "big five" animals are known to be the most difficult for trophy hunters to kill while hunting on foot.
Animal Lovers Outraged by Killing of Zimbabwe's "Cecil the Lion"
Animal lovers throughout the world have been raging about the gruesome exploits of trophy hunters in Africa, many of them Americans who go on elaborate hunting safari trips, just so they can bring home the mane of a dead lion or some other exotic animal. The issue was brought to a head when, last month, American dentist and trophy hunter Walter Palmer shot a beloved black-maned lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. The lion has long been a popular sight among ecotourists in Hwange National Park -- so much so that he was named Cecil.
Cecil the lion was 13 years of age and equipped with a special electronic collar, as he was being studied by Oxford University. The American dentist who shot and killed him was on an illegal hunt, and Zimbabwe officials have called for him to be extradited back to the country for trial.
400,000 Signatures in Support of Big Game Conservation
In the wake of Cecil's death, approximately 400,000 signatures were received on the Obama administration website Change.org in support of halting the transportation of big game carcasses.
The Delta Airlines ban on the transportation of trophy kills in particular was an important addition to the international protest against the transportation of trophy animal carcasses because Delta is the only American-owned operator to fly direct from Johannesburg, South Africa, to the United States. Delta is also investigating the placement of bans on other trophy animals in addition to "big five" animals.
Several international air transportation companies, including South African Airways, Lufthansa Cargo and Emirates SkyCargo, have also put transportation bans on various types of animal remains. Hopefully more airlines will join these and stricter international laws will be developed to stop big game poaching and trophy hunting activities.
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