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UPS, FedEx, South African Airways Among Major Carriers Urged to Ban Hunting Trophy Shipments

HSI calls on airlines to make immediate policy changes following death of Cecil the Lion

Humane Society International

Some of the world’s largest air carriers, including UPS, FedEx and South African Airways, are under pressure from leading animal protection charity Humane Society International to adopt an immediate ban on the transport of hunting trophies, especially Africa’s “Big Five”: African elephants, rhinoceroses, African lions, leopards and Cape buffalo.

Airlines including Delta, Air Canada, United Airlines and American Airlines have implemented similar bans following the tragedy surrounding Cecil, who was killed by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. As well as urgently calling on all 250 international airlines to ban wild trophy carriage, HSI is also urging parcel carriers to no longer be the get-away vehicle for the unethical trophy hunting.

This is the latest effort by The Humane Society of the United States and its global affiliate, Humane Society International to combat the hunting of rare species and protect African lions and other wildlife following Cecil’s death. The groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 for improved protections for African lions and last week sent a letter urging the agency to finalize its proposed rule to protect African lions under the Endangered Species Act. Take action to help improve protection for lions.

Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for Humane Society International, said: “Cecil the Lion’s brutal death at the hands of a wealthy hunter has brought worldwide condemnation of the heinous trophy hunting industry. There is no financial or other reason for any airline to continue to aid and abet this industry, and their passengers would be horrified to know that below them in the cargo hold could be the lifeless remains of a once magnificent wild animal killed for kicks. These companies must not allow themselves to be the get-away vehicle for unethical trophy hunting. They must wash their hands of this horrific, cruel and wasteful hobby once and for all.”

The letter to the UPS, signed by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, states in part: “On behalf of The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, and our millions of supporters throughout the United States and the rest of the world, I ask you to join with the other major airlines in the world and establish a policy that bans the transport of wild animal hunting trophies, in particular Africa’s “Big Five”: African elephants, rhinoceroses, African lions, leopards, and Cape buffalo.

"…Without a way to transport the trophy home, these hunters would have no impetus for traveling to Africa to kill these iconic animals in the first place. I hope that your company will make the humane and profitable decision to heed your consumers’ wishes and stop transporting the trophies of magnificent African wildlife.”

African lions currently have no protection under U.S. law, with more than 400 lions killed every year by American trophy hunters, and 3,703 lion trophies imported into the U.S since 2010, including lion heads, paws and other body parts which are free to flow across the U.S. border in unlimited quantities from anywhere in the world.

A 2013 report commissioned by HSI, The HSUS, Born Free and IFAW, demonstrates that trophy hunting is not economically important in African countries, despite hunters’ claims. The report shows that in 2011 trophy hunting contributed only 0.09 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the nine countries studied. In Zimbabwe, where Cecil was killed, trophy hunting accounts for only 0.2 percent of GDP. By contrast, in Kenya, which does not allow trophy hunting, tourism revenue contributed 5.7 percent of GDP in 2011 (World Travel and Tourism Council).

Poachers and trophy hunters are driving lions to extinction. Fewer than 40,000 African lions—and possibly as few as 23,000—are estimated to remain today. Lions exist in only one-quarter of their former range and are suffering from loss of habitat and prey. Contact airlines and the U.S. FWS to help protect them; then, donate to stop wildlife abuse.


Media Contacts:
In the U.S.: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 240.620.3263
In the U.K.: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org +44 (0)7989.972.423