Cecil killing prompts trophy cargo policy review

CecilCall it the “Cecil Effect.” In the aftermath of the illegal killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist in Zimbabwe, airlines that carry “trophy kills” as cargo have come under pressure by organizations such as the Humane Society International. Now, Delta Air Lines, which had been a holdout, has agreed not to carry hunting trophies. Other major carriers that have instituted hunting trophy bans include American, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, United and Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

Cecil was a well-known lion who lived in a Zimbabwean game reserve. As a subject of a study by an Oxford University-based conservation group, Cecil was fitted with a tracking device to observe his movements. Despite these protections, in early July a hunting party lured the lion off the reserve by dragging a dead animal behind their vehicle and later killed the lion, which is listed as a “threatened” species.

In the wake of the Cecil incident, which drew worldwide outrage on social media, a group of airlines, including Air France, KLM, IAG Cargo, Iberia, Singapore Airlines and Qantas, have all said they would ban the transport of hunting trophies. South African Airways had previously banned carrying hunting trophies, but SAA mysteriously lifted its ban in late July, perhaps under pressure from the Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa.

Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson said his airline had never carried slaughtered big game as cargo, while British Airways said it operated with a “total ban on any form of hunting trophies” as cargo. Delta said “effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight.”

Now, UPS is coming under fire because it is still going to allow hunting trophies in its cargo. The animal rights website The Dodo said that UPS is now the “number one target” of the Humane Society International. “We urge UPS to join the growing list of airlines that prohibit the transport of trophies,” said Teresa Telecky, Ph.D., director of the wildlife department for the nonprofit group.

In a statement to the Washington Post, UPS public relations director Susan Rosenberg said, “UPS takes many factors under consideration in establishing its shipping policies, including the legality of the contents and additional procedures required to ensure compliance. We avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents. All shipments must comply with all laws, including any relevant documentation from the shipper required in the origin and destination location of the shipments.”

Although the list changes daily, the carriers which will still transport hunting trophies are: Air Algérie, Air Berlin, Air Canada, Air China, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, DHL, Egyptair, FedEx, Japan Airlines, Kenya Airways, Korean Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, South African Airways, South African Express Airways, Swiss International Airlines, Turkish Airlines, UPS and Vietnam Airlines.

Photo credit: Flicker, Daughter #3

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