Delta Air Lines announced on Monday that it will no longer carry animal hunting trophies as cargo on its planes, joining a growing number of airlines instituting the same ban after the death of Cecil the African lion at the hands of an American dentist.
An estimated 15,000 go on African hunting safaris every year, making up the continent’s largest group of non-African hunters. Delta is the only American carrier with direct service between the United States and countries in Africa, according to
Cecil, a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, was shot with a crossbow and gun by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. The animal was reportedly lured from the protected area of Hwange National Park. Palmer has said he believed he was participating in a legal hunt.
The news of the lion’s death created an international firestorm, causing animal rights activists to examine how hunters such as Palmer get their dead animal trophies home.
A petition at Change.org calling on Delta to stop transporting the trophies collected more than 395,000 signatures. The website declared “victory” on Monday with Delta’s announcement.
“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” according to a statement posted on the airline’s website.
“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.”
The Times reports that Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas all suggested last week that they would ban the transportation of hunting kills on its planes as well.
The Delta news was met with overwhelming approval on social media, where the story of Cecil the lion’s death has gone viral in recent days.