Since the killing of Cecil the lion in early July, 42 airlines have announced or reaffirmed bans on wildlife trophy shipments on their carriers. Virgin, Delta, International Airlines Group (British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus), Air Canada and Jet Blue are among the carriers that have banned shipping lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo trophies. South African Airways and shipping giants UPS and Fed Ex have yet to do so.
Andrew Rowan, president and CEO of Humane Society International, said: “By putting in place policies that prevent hunters from using their cargo holds to transport Africa’s wildlife, these airlines are sending a clear message to the trophy hunting industry that wild animals are worth much more alive than dead. We urge all airlines to follow their lead and help save animals like Cecil the Lion, brutally killed at the hands of a wealthy American hunter. As a native South African, I urge South African Airways to take a stance against trophy hunting and help bring investments in ecotourism – an investment that is proven to go much further than hunting.”
Wildlife-based ecotourism brought an estimated $34.2 billion in tourist receipts in 2013, according to a report by the World Tourism Organization. Meanwhile a study of nine countries that offer trophy hunting found that, in 2011, tourism contributed, on average, 2.4 percent of GDP, and trophy hunting only 0.09 percent of GDP.
Following Cecil’s death, HSI has contacted all 250 airlines requesting that they immediately stop the shipment of trophies of the African “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo). HSI confirms that 42 airlines now prohibit shipment of trophies from the African “Big Five” and other wildlife.
Trophy hunting threatens the survival of many species including lions, the wild populations of which have declined by 50 percent in the past 30 years due to a myriad of threats, including trophy hunting. Fewer than 40,000 African lions—and possibly as few as 23,000—are estimated to remain today.
In the U.S.: Raúl Arce-Contreras, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 301.721.6440