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Canned Hunting and Airlines

More airlines impose embargos on hunting trophies

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Update: 8-27- 2015 - 42 airlines now ban wildlife trophies since the death of Cecil the lion


An increasing number of airlines are demonstrating the importance of ethics within their company policies. The three largest US airline carriers – American, Delta, and United, along with over 40 other airlines have all banned the transport of hunting trophies for lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros, and Cape Buffalos. Airlines such as JetBlue, Virgin America, Hawaiian Airlines and many more have gone even further to ban all hunting trophies in addition to the African Big Five species. It is now time for UPS, Fedex, and South African Airways to do the same.


In April 2015, South African Airways had been the first airline to ban hunting trophies of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and lions. Unfortunately the ban was lifted by August. It seems that the lion hunting lobby successfully influenced the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to put pressure on the airlines to withdraw its ban.


Legally, several lawmakers have taken a stand against the unjust killing of animals like Cecil by introducing bills to restrict wildlife trophy imports. On the federal side, US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the CECIL Act to ban all imports of trophies and parts from African lions and other at-risk species listed under the ESA. State bills in New Jersey and New York have also been introduced that would restrict intrastate sales and transportation of animal trophies.

Update 7-22- 2015. Bad news for lions and other endangered species


On July 22, South African Airways (SAA) ended their ban that prohibited the transportation of hunting trophies of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and lions. The embargo was implemented in April, but it seems that the lion hunting lobby successfully influenced the South African Department of Environmental Affairs to put pressure on the SAA to withdraw its ban.


Please sign our petition against Canned Hunting – this is needed now more than ever!

FOUR PAWS welcomes the embargos on transporting hunting trophies of lions, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.


On May 8th 2015, South African Airways became the first airline to issue a transport embargo on trophies of lions, elephants, rhinos, and tigers. The global ban was effective immediately and does not allow any exceptions. Soon after, Emirates Sky Cargo announced an embargo on transporting trophies stating, “Our policy on hunting trophies is that in addition to the existing embargo on CITES-1 specimens (most critically endangered) effective  May 15, 2015, we will not accept any kind of Hunting Trophies of elephant, rhinoceros, lion and tiger for carriage on Emirates services, irrespective of CITES appendix.” By the end of May, Lufthansa Cargo announced that it also “has decided not to transport any trophies of the African fauna, e.g. lions, elephants and rhinos, in or out of Africa – including legally hunted or legally acquired trophies.”


These transport bans are a key milestone in the fight to end the mass killing of animals in South Africa to be used as “trophies.”  With approximately 1,000 lions being killed each year in South Africa for trophy hunting, these embargos from major airlines send a strong message that this killing is unethical and must be stopped.


FOUR PAWS congratulates these airlines and calls on other airlines, such as Delta, to follow their positive example. As it currently stands, “Delta accepts hunting trophies in accordance with all US domestic and international regulations, which prohibits the possession of trophies or other items associated with protected species.”


Recent research indicates there are around 6,000 lions being held in 200 South African lion breeding farms. The animals are bred to be shot in an enclosure and served as a trophy or used for other terrible profit driven activities such as cub petting farms, so-called “conservation” projects, and the lion bone trade. Presently, captive-bred lions have no legal protection in South Africa and even tigers are offered for trophy hunting from some of the same farms. The European Union and the United States are the two largest importers of lion trophies. Between 2007 and 2012 the U.S. imported 400 lion trophies annually, while the EU Member States imported 200.


“The global increase in stricter regulations and tighter controls over the transport, import, export, sale, and trade of hunting trophies and animal parts is a testament to the unethical nature of safari hunting, “canned hunting,” and poaching operations. FOUR PAWS congratulates every government, company, and global citizen who is taking a stand against these exploitative and cruel industries,” stated Wim Dekok, Country Manager of FOUR PAWS USA. 


In South Africa, lions are kept in the most unnatural conditions from the day they are born to the day they are killed to become either a trophy or be sold for body parts. Throughout South Africa, one can pose for pictures with lion cubs or hand raise them during an expensive volunteer program, or simply visit a lion park. As the animals become habituated to humans they are no longer afraid when approached by amateur hunters.


For years, FOUR PAWS has fought for an end to canned hunting in South Africa. The FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK offers refuge for rescued lions from breeding and hunting farms