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August 3, 2015

Time for Major Airlines to Stop Shipping Africa Big Five Trophies

A Humane Nation--Wayne Pacelle's Blog

  • Cecil with two of his cubs. Brent Stapelkamp

Update: Since the posting of this blog, numerous airlines and other companies have joined the list of those banning animal trophies aboard (see below for details). This is just as we’d hoped, and we urge others to follow their lead.

Dr. Walter Palmer’s behavior in killing and mutilating Cecil the lion is disgraceful. But he’s not a one-off character. He’s a very enthusiastic participant in the larger enterprise of globe-trotting international trophy hunting, where rich trophy hunters seek out and kill some of the largest animals in the world to fill their dens or private museums, get their names in the record books of Safari Club International, and brag to their buddies that they’ve killed the biggest and the grandest of creatures on earth.

Ask UPS and South African Airways to stop carrying hunting trophies.

Now, sure as shooting, a second low-life character has come to light—Jan C. Seski, a gynecologist from Pittsburgh—for a possible illegal lion killing under similar circumstances in April. In addition to the lion he killed Dr. Seski also shot his sixth elephant on that trip. (He apparently threatened to shoot his neighbor’s dogs, too—as if any of us needed more evidence that this guy, too, is heartless thug.)

Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Why are they obsessed with killing the world’s biggest, most magnificent animals, and denying the rest of us the pleasure of sharing the earth with these creatures? What is it about the serial killing of animals that titillates them so much?

It’s been reported that after Cecil’s death, Palmer requested help in finding an elephant with tusks above a certain weight. He only left the country after he was informed by his guide they could not help him with that.

The trophy hunters like to excuse their passion for killing by saying that their spending promotes conservation. That’s nonsense, and more of a self-serving diversion.

A 2013 economic report demonstrated what anybody with their wits about them knows: These animals are worth more alive than dead. Kenya, which banned trophy hunting in the 1970s, has an eco-tourism economy that brings in far more than trophy hunting brings in to South Africa as a whole.

The fact is, trophy hunting of lions, elephants, and rhinos is a net revenue loser for African economies. Trophy hunters may throw around some money, but they rob parks, reserves, and other natural areas of the wonderful animals that are the real draw—the animals that attract countless people willing to spend money to see them and to be close to them. In that respect, trophy hunters are like bank robbers who leave a little cash behind.

South African Airways suspended the transport of big game trophies from Africa several months ago, including the heads of lions killed on canned hunting operations in the country. But recently, under pressure from Safari Club International and other groups aligned with the trophy hunting industry, they resumed transports. Emirates Airlines, on the other hand, has remained steadfast in not accepting hunting trophies of lions, elephants, and rhinos.

Let’s let all the major airlines know it’s time to cut off the shipments for good of African lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and Cape buffalo—the so-called Africa Big Five. This “hunting achievement” award leads to disgraceful behavior, and the airlines should not provide a getaway vehicle for trophy hunters’ larceny.

Using wealth to kill the magnificent animals of the world is a misuse of the gifts these people have been given. If trophy hunters are serious about conservation they should do some real good with their wealth—and stop spreading destruction, pain, and death.

Please honor Cecil by asking the U.S. FWS to list African lions as threatened, and by asking UPS and South African Airways to stop carrying hunting trophies. Then, consider donating to stop wildlife abuse.

More and more companies are refusing to participate in this travesty:

No hunting trophies: Etihad Airways, KLM, Air Europa, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Virgin America, Brussels Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air France, British Airways, IAG Cargo, Qantas, Singapore Airways, Austrian Airlines, Binter Canarias, JetBlue (no trophies nor CITES protected species), Comair, Hawaiian Airlines, CityJet, LOT Polish Airlines, Aer Lingus, Ethiopian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Finnair (including no skins/hides), Vueling Airlines, Aeroméxico, FastJet, The Mediterrenean Shipping Company, ParcelForce, airberlin, Air Tahiti Nui, Royal Jordanian Air ("no hunting trophies of any kind").

No transport of the "Big Five": Air Canada, WestJet, CargoJet, American Airlines, United, Delta, Air New Zealand, Condor


  • Emirates (embargo on CITES Appendix I listed animals and plants; hunting trophies of elephant, rhino, tiger and lion)
  • Lufthansa Cargo (no trophies of the African fauna for carriage from Africa)
  • Swiss International Air Lines (no transport of CITES App I species; no lion parts of any kind)
  • SriLankan Airlines (no game/hunter trophies or any part of an animal killed in the wild or listed as endangered or protected)
  • Turkish Airlines (no hunting trophies, no shark fins, no raw/processed remains of live animals, no animals for research purposes, no dead animals, no infected live animals, no pregnant mammals, no rodents, no poisonous animals)
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