Endangered and threatened animals must be off-limits to international hunters
Cecil the lion’s death has spawned outrage on social media and mainstream news outlets. Cecil, a beloved lion in Hwange National Park, was killed in a senseless act of trophy hunting. The hunter confessed to killing the well-known and protected 13-year-old lion, who was part of a longtime Oxford University research project and wore a tracking collar, during a recent hunting trip to Zimbabwe. The hunter allegedly paid $50,000 to local guides; they then lured Cecil out of the wildlife preserve so that the hunter could kill Cecil with a bow and arrow. Over the next 40 hours, he was tracked and finally killed. Cecil was discovered skinned and headless outside the national park.
The 13-year-old lion’s death has brought much needed attention to the devastation caused by trophy hunting, the wildlife trade and acts of cruelty.
In response to Cecil’s death, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines have pledged that they will no longer transport big-game trophies on flights. Other airlines –including Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa, have already banned the transport of animals known in Africa as the “big five” animals: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. However many airlines continue to all the transport of big game trophies on their flights. South African Airways, which had embargoed the transportation of these trophies in April after incidents of false documentation, resumed their transport in July.
While major airlines are taking responsibility in choosing to support conservation, UPS issued a public statement that they will continue to ship big game trophies. In an interview with The Washington Post on August 3, the company said that they “avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents” of what they are shipping and insisted that they consider U.S. and international laws, not “public opinion” in determining what it will ship. FedEx also defended its policy to “accept shipments of parts for taxidermy for purposes if they meet our shipping guidelines.” The company does not ship whole animal carcasses.
Over-hunting has devastated threatened and endangered species. By refusing to play a role in the wildlife trafficking supply chain, airlines and shipping companies can help eradicate the senseless slaughter of these animals for sport and vanity.