Following the killing of African Lion Cecil, management at United Airlines and Delta Air Lines Inc. have announced the outright banning of big-game trophy transporation.
“We felt it made sense to do so,” Charles Hobart, a United spokesman, said Monday. The company will now prohibit transportation of elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards and water buffalo as well as lions.
Hours before United made its announcement, Delta had announced the same five banned animals.
Big-game hunters in the past would pay to have the head, horns, and hide of their kills, transported back home for bragging rights.
Even before the death of Cecil animal rights groups were begging major airlines to ban big-game trophies.
While announcing the ban of big-game trophies both companies avoided naming Cecil as the reason for their sudden decision. Zimbabwe wildlife authorities suspended hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in some areas near the park this weekend.
“Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species,” a spokesperson said. “Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”
Delta is the biggest U.S. carrier to Africa, while United serves only the Lagos, Nigeria, region of the country.
Delta and United join South African Airways which moved in April to halt the carriage of legally acquired hunting trophies. In May Emirate airlines also banned wildlife trophies.
Zimbabwe has requested the extradition of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it’s investigating the incident.