Major U.S. airlines end trophy hunter shipments after Cecil outcry

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Major Airlines Ban Shipment of Big-Game Trophies From Africa


Three U.S. airlines have banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo killed by trophy hunters, in the latest fallout from the killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the lion last month.

American Airlines said on Tuesday it would join Delta Airlines and United Airlines in banning the transport of animals known in Africa as the "big five", coined by hunters because they are the hardest to kill on foot.

There has been an international outcry against trophy hunting among animal lovers since it emerged that American dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil, a rare black-maned lion that was a familiar sight at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

See Cecil and how people have reacted:

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Cecil, Zimbabwe Lion killed by Minnesota dentist
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Major U.S. airlines end trophy hunter shipments after Cecil outcry
In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Two Zimbabweans arrested for illegally hunting a lion appeared in court Wednesday, July 29, 2015. The head of Zimbabwe’s safari association said the killing was unethical and that it couldn’t even be classified as a hunt, since the lion killed by an American dentist was lured into the kill zone. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP)
Dentist Walter Palmer, who returned to his practice, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Bloomington, Minn., arrives back to his office following a lunch break. Palmer, after weeks out of the public eye, was the subject of an international uproar after he was identified as the hunter who killed the famous lion Cecil, in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
BLOOMINGTON, MINN - SEPTEMBER 8: Dentist and trophy hunter Dr. Walter Palmer (L- in black short sleeves) walks into his clinic with private security and members of the media on September 8, 2015 in Bloomington, MN. Palmer came to his clinic for the first time in over a month after killing famed lion Cecil in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MINN - SEPTEMBER 8: Dentist and trophy hunter Dr. Walter Palmer (L- in black short sleeves) walks into his clinic with private security and members of the media on September 8, 2015 in Bloomington, MN. Palmer came to his clinic for the first time in over a month after killing famed lion Cecil in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MINN - SEPTEMBER 8: Protester Cathy Pierce (C) and other protesters voice their anger after Dr. Walter Palmer walks into his clinic on September 8, 2015 in Bloomington, MN. Palmer came to his clinic for the first time in over a month after killing famed lion Cecil in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather outside the dental practice of Walter Palmer, who returned to his practice, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Bloomington, Minn. Palmer, after weeks out of the public eye, was the subject of an international uproar after he was identified as the hunter who killed the famous lion Cecil, in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters hold pictures of Cecil the Lion as they stand in front of the Department of Interior building to protest against the importing of wild game killed as trophies August 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. Peta is calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to take steps to end cruel trophy hunting by listing lions as a threatened species and banning the importation of their heads, tails, and skins into the U.S. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
In this frame grab taken from a November 2012 video made available by Paula French, a well-known, protected lion known as Cecil strolls around in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean police said Tuesday, July 28, 2015 they are searching for Walter James Palmer, an American who allegedly shot Cecil with a crossbow while on a big game hunt in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others. (Paula French via AP)

Cecil the lion.

(Photo via International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa)

BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion, in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters place signs on the doors of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic to call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters place stuffed animals on the sign of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic to call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Stuffed animals and notes lie outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a protected lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters hold pictures of Cecil the Lion as they stand in front of the Department of Interior building to protest against the importing of wild game killed as trophies August 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. Peta is calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to take steps to end cruel trophy hunting by listing lions as a threatened species and banning the importation of their heads, tails, and skins into the U.S. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Cecil the lion from Zimbabwe that was killed by an American Dentist is projected on the Empire State Building, in the 'Projecting Change on the Empire State Building' project, made by the Oscar winning director and founder of Oceanic Preservation Society Louis Psihoyos and producer Fisher Stevens in New York on August 1, 2015. PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe inspects the guard of honour during a ceremony in Harare, Monday Aug. 10, 2015, honouring thousands of fighters who died in a 1970s Bush war against colonialism. Mugabe, in his first public comments about the popular lion named Cecil, says his compatriots failed in their responsibility to protect the lion that was killed by an American in an allegedly illegal hunt. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Protestors gather outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Protestors gather outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion, in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion, in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Protesters call attention to the alleged poaching of Cecil the lion, in the parking lot of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
Protestors gather outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Mark Balma works on a mural of Cecil the lion outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Authorities allege that Palmer paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a protected lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Stuffed animals and notes collect outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill Cecil, a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Theodro Bronkhorst, right, a professional hunter, arrives for his appearance at the magistrates courts in Hwange about 700 kilometres south west of Harare, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Bronkhorst who was granted $1000 bail has been charged with failure to prevent an unlawful hunt that resulted in the killing of Cecil the lion by Minnesota dentist, Walter James Palmer, in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo)
Farm owner Honest Trymore Ndlovu appears at Hwange magistrates' court to face poaching charges, about 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the capital Harare, Wednesday, July, 29, 2015. Ndlovu and his co-defendant, professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst , are accused of helping Walter James Palmer hunt the lion. Zimbabwean police said they are looking for Palmer, the American dentist who reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill the animal. (AP Photo)
This photo shows the dental offices of Walter James Palmer in Bloomington, Minn., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Palmer, an avid hunter, is accused of illegally killing a well-known and protected lion, named Cecil, during a big game hunt in Zimbabwe. The killing has outraged animal conservationists and others worldwide. (AP Photo/Amy Forliti)
Stuffed animals adorn the doorstep of Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Palmer, accused of illegally killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe, said Tuesday that he thought everything about his trip was legal and wasn't aware of the animal's status "until the end of the hunt." (Scott Takushi/Pioneer Press via AP)
Women add signs to the door outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
A woman writes on a sign outside Dr. Walter James Palmer's dental office in Bloomington, Minn., Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to track and kill a black-maned lion, just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JULY 29: Rachel Augusta leads the protest of the killing of Cecil the lion in the parking lot of hunter Dr. Walter Palmer's River Bluff Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota. According to reports, the 13-year-old lion was lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe and killed by Dr. Palmer, who had paid at least $50,000 for the hunt. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
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Delta Air Lines Inc, the only American airline to fly directly between the United States and Johannesburg, will also review policies on accepting other hunting trophies with government agencies and other organizations that support legal shipments, it said.

Even before the killing of Cecil the lion, campaigners had called for major cargo airlines to halt shipments of endangered species killed by trophy hunters.

Nearly 400,000 people signed a Change.org petition that was started by a Delta customer calling for the airline to stop transporting exotic hunting trophies, the organization said.

Zimbabwe Overview | FindTheData

Lufthansa Cargo, for example, decided in early June to no longer accept any trophies such as lions, elephants and rhinos from Africa, while Emirates SkyCargo [EMIRA.UL] banned such shipments in May.

Although most animals are sent by ship, the bans will make it harder for hunters to get their trophies home to put above the mantelpiece, dealing a blow to Africa's multi-million-dollar game industry.

South African Airways [SAA.UL] had also placed an embargo on transporting trophies of rhinos, elephants, tigers and lion in April after incidents of false documentation. But it reversed that decision two weeks ago, saying the Department of Environmental Affairs had agreed to tighten inspections and crack down on false permits.

Zimbabwe has called for the extradition of Palmer, who is accused of killing Cecil in an illegal hunt. The 13-year-old lion was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Jeffrey Dastin in New York City; Additional reporting by Joe Brock and Tiisetso Motsoeneng in Johannesburg and Victoria Bryan in Vienna; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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