Delta Air Lines Bans Big Game Hunting Trophies

As world outrage over Cecil the Lion’s death grows, one of the largest U.S. airlines tells hunters to find another way to bring home the bodies of lions, tigers, and other wildlife.

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Aug 3, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Delta, the only United States airline that offers direct flights to South Africa, just put up a big roadblock for American hunters hoping to bring home animal trophies.

In a statement sent to TakePart on Monday, Delta said it has banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo parts on its flights worldwide.

“Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species,” the airline stated. “Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”

RELATED: Cecil the Lion’s Death Reveals Americans’ Big Role in Trophy Hunting

The news follows the recent global outcry over the death of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the Lion at the hands of American dentist Walter Palmer. The allegedly illegal hunt of the beloved 13-year-old lion sparked petitions that have garnered more than 1 million signatures, calling for justice for Cecil and stricter protections of Africa’s endangered lions.

“There’s no doubt the news of Cecil definitely has altered the game plan for Delta,” said Chris Green, director of legislative affairs for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Walter Palmer is from Minneapolis—the third largest hub in the U.S. for Delta. It’s not unthinkable to assume he would have chosen to carry a national treasure of Zimbabwe’s back to the state on a Delta plane.”

In May, Green started a petition calling for Delta to stop transporting trophies of Africa’s big game wildlife. The petition has attracted 394,000 signatures since then.

Green said the signatures were most likely a key to turning Delta’s position as well. “Imagine if Cecil had been carried on a Delta flight after they had received almost 400,000 signatures calling for a ban on trophy transport—that’s a public relations nightmare,” he said.

Asked whether Cecil’s death or the petition had a role in the trophy ban, Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said the corporation had no further comment.

Delta’s joins British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, Qantas, Qatar, Etihad, Iberia, Singapore, and Brussels Airlines in banning the transport of big game hunting trophies. Americans constitute 60 percent of oversees big game hunters who travel to Africa each year.

“Most people participate in these hunts to have the chance to bring their trophy home and brag about it—this is one more roadblock for them,” Green said.