Delta Air Lines announced Wednesday that it has banned shipment of exotic animal trophies as freight.
“Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight,” Delta said in a statement. “Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species.”
Delta, the only U.S. carrier that serves South Africa directly, had been accepting hunting trophies if customers provided appropriate documentation to U.S. customs officials and if the animal in question was not a protected species. The move comes amid an outcry over the killing of the well-known lion Cecil by American hunter Walter Palmer, after the lion was lured out of a Zimbabwe wildlife reserve.
A Change.org petition launched by Chris Green, a Delta Diamond Medallion flier, received over 390,000 signatures and called for the airline to institute a ban. Lufthansa and Emirates Airline already have similar policies in place and after news of Cecil’s death, South African Airways also announced a policy refusing to transport exotic animal hunting trophies.
"Nearly 400,000 people signed my Change.org petition for Delta Air Lines to stop transporting exotic hunting trophies. As a longtime Delta flier, I’m thankful they just decided to officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide," Green said.
The Animal Humane Society is calling for all major airlines to adopt policies that prohibit the shipping of big-game trophies.