In what appears to be an ill-advised response to public attention, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines each announced the immediate suspension of cargo shipments of lion, elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, and buffalo trophies. The airlines have given no indication that they will ban the shipment of trophies of any other species. For Delta Air Lines, the ban represents a direct reversal of the position it announced on May 13, 2015. On that date, Delta, which is the only U.S. domestic carrier with direct service to South Africa, committed to continuing the shipment of all legally hunted trophies.
The three U.S. airlines — and other airlines around the world that have succumbed to media pressure — have little understanding or concern about the harm that their embargoes will cause to wildlife conservation. International hunters generate and deliver much needed funds to the areas where wildlife actually exists. Each action that airlines take to discourage international hunting means less money to fight poaching, preserve habitat, and sustainably manage wildlife populations.
These three airline announcements came weeks after several other international airlines implemented changes to their policies concerning the shipment of hunting trophies. Not all airlines are enforcing trophy shipment embargoes. For example, on July 22, 2015, thanks in great part to the efforts of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa, with support from SCI, South African Airways reconsidered and reversed an embargo that it had implemented months before.