US airlines ban shipment of hunting trophies after Cecil the lion’s killing

Cecil the Lion

The big three US airlines have all banned the shipment of hunting trophies following the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

Delta Air Lines was the first to announce the change on Monday, saying that it would no longer accept lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies. American Airlines and United Airlines soon followed.

But it is unclear how many, if any, they have been carrying in recent years.

American spokesman Ross Feinstein said it is largely symbolic because the airline does not serve Africa.

United, which only has one flight to Africa, also announced its own restriction. The airline said its records indicate no shipments of these types of trophies in the past.

The moves come after an American dentist killed the well-known lion last month in an allegedly illegal hunt, setting off a worldwide uproar. The dentist, Walter James Palmer, lives in Minnesota, which is a major hub for Delta.

As recently as May, Atlanta-based Delta had said that it would continue to allow such shipments – as long as they were legal. At the time, some international carriers prohibited such cargo.

Delta has the most flights of any US airline to Africa. Several foreign airlines announced similar bans last week.

Delta would not answer questions about why the decision was made now and how many hunting trophies it has shipped in recent years.

The company only issued a 58-word statement noting that prior to Monday’s ban, “Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species”.

Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant, noted that the airline was probably responding to pressure following the news of Cecil’s killing.

The airline was the subject of a petition on to ban such shipments.

“I don’t think there was much of this shipment taking place, so there is minimal revenue loss and big PR gain for them,” he said.

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