Major US Airlines End Trophy Hunter Shipments
Three US airlines have banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo killed by trophy hunters, in the latest fallout from the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe last month.
American Airlines said it would join Delta Air Lines and United Airlines in banning the transport of animals known in Africa as the "big five", because they are the hardest to kill on foot.
There has been an international outcry against trophy hunting 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.
Delta, the only US airline to fly directly between the United States and Johannesburg, will also review policies on accepting other hunting trophies.
Even before the killing of Cecil, campaigners had called for major cargo airlines to halt shipments of endangered species killed by trophy hunters.
Nearly 400,000 people signed a Change petition that was started by a Delta customer calling for the airline to stop shipping exotic hunting trophies.
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 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 had also placed an embargo on transporting trophies of rhinos, elephants, tigers and lions 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 had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study.