Time for Major Airlines to Stop Shipping Africa Big Five Trophies

By on August 3, 2015 with 49 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Breaking News: Today, both Delta and United – the biggest U.S. based carriers to Africa – announced new policies that ban transport of trophies from lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo – the “Africa Big Five.” These announcements come in response to the global furor of the illegal killing of Cecil, and will put pressure on foreign-based carriers that serve major African cities to stop their carrying of trophies from these species. 

Dr. Walter Palmer’s behavior in killing and mutilating Cecil the lion is disgraceful. But he’s not a one-off character. He’s a very enthusiastic participant in the larger enterprise of globe-trotting international trophy hunting, where rich trophy hunters seek out and kill some of the largest animals in the world to fill their dens or private museums, get their names in the record books of Safari Club International, and brag to their buddies that they’ve killed the biggest and the grandest of creatures on earth.

Now, sure as shooting, a second low-life character has come to light – Jan C. Seski, a gynecologist from Pittsburgh – for a possible illegal lion killing under similar circumstances in April. In addition to the lion he killed, Dr. Seski also shot his sixth elephant on that trip. (He apparently threatened to shoot his neighbor’s dogs too – as if any of us needed more evidence that this guy, too, is a heartless thug.)

Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Why are they obsessed with killing the world’s biggest, most magnificent animals, and denying the rest of us the pleasure of sharing the earth with these creatures? What is it about the serial killing of animals that titillates them so much?

Cecil the lion with his cubs.

Cecil the lion with his cubs. Photo by Brent Stapelkamp

It’s been reported that after Cecil’s death, Palmer requested help in finding an elephant with tusks above a certain weight. He only left the country after he was informed by his guide they could not help him with that.

The trophy hunters like to excuse their passion for killing by saying that their spending promotes conservation. That’s nonsense, and more of a self-serving diversion.

A 2013 economic report demonstrated what anybody with their wits about them knows: These animals are worth more alive than dead. Kenya, which banned trophy hunting in the 1970s, has an  eco-tourism economy that brings in far more than trophy hunting brings in to South Africa as a whole.

The fact is, trophy hunting of lions, elephants, and rhinos is a net revenue loser for African economies. Trophy hunters may throw around some money, but they rob parks, reserves, and other natural areas of the wonderful animals that are the real draw – the animals that attract countless people willing to spend money to see them and to be close to them.  In that respect, trophy hunters are like bank robbers who leave a little cash behind.

South African Airways suspended the transport of big game trophies from Africa several months ago, including the heads of lions killed on canned hunting operations in the country. But recently, under pressure from Safari Club International and other groups aligned with the trophy hunting industry, they resumed transports. Emirates Airlines, on the other hand, has remained steadfast in not accepting hunting trophies of lions, elephants, and rhinos. So has Lufthansa.  With the announcements from Delta and United, the momentum is clearly on our side.

Let’s let all the major airlines know it’s time to cut off the shipments for good of African lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and Cape buffalo – the so-called Africa Big Five. This “hunting achievement” award leads to disgraceful behavior, and the airlines should not provide a getaway vehicle for trophy hunters’ larceny.

Using wealth to kill the magnificent animals of the world is a misuse of the gifts these people have been given. If trophy hunters are serious about conservation they should do some real good with their wealth – and stop spreading destruction, pain, and death.

Take action today to tell the rest of the airline industry: Don’t fly wild »

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Nadia Boone says:

    It is such a shame that punch of Ugly Rich Americans and Euro Trash are destroying the earth and all the majestic creatures in it! How barbaric!

  2. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto says:

    This is not an action movie I´m not surprised that this donkey is a dentist he must face justice

  3. Robyne Zuendel says:

    This behavoir in killing these beautiful animals must stop they are not to be admired hanging on a wall as a trophy. They really call that sportsmanship the way they lure them.
    The airlines must stop the transportation of the corpses then may be they can be admired by future generations.

    • Linda Mathews says:

      I totally agree. My mother’s cousin, years ago, lived in Africa. She was a nurse married to a medical doctor. They chose to live there to help the residents, and they loved the wildlife. They went on photo safaris and I remember that my mom’s cousin used to write and tell of the magnificent animals they observed. She also kept pet birds and a pet antelope.

  4. Sandy Smith says:

    Here are other airlines that fly between the US and Zimbabwe in case anyone wants to post on their Facebook page: British Air, Virgin America, Emirates, Jet Blue, Air France, KLM, United, Ethiopian Airlines, African Airways

  5. Linda Mathews says:

    Good for Delta Airlines! All carriers need to stop transporting hunting trophies. I feel for all hunted, slaughtered animals, endangered or not. I saw disgusting photos of Palmer with bighorn sheep, elk, and caribou he heartlessly killed. As if shooting with a rifle was not horrid enough, bow hunting is perhaps the cruelest. My grandmother, long before the animal welfare movement was even heard of, asserted that bow hunting was sickening and cruel. I invest in compassionate companies, and if major corporations start to realize many investors want to own stock in socially and morally responsible, maybe things will start to change. Money talks for good as well as evil.

  6. Randi Schlesinger says:

    Great start, but why limit it to the “big 5”? It should extend to ALL animals.

  7. Denny Mitchell says:

    I am totally appalled that airlines would allow the transport of these victims in the first place. I did not know that. Come on humans!!

  8. Patricia Mason says:

    Every airline should stop shipping the decapitated heads of these beautiful animals so they can be mounted on the walls in the homes of these trophy hunters. I am amazed that any airline would continue this practice after the outcry over the killing of Cecil….when will these rich people, who think it’s fine to decimate the most beautiful animals of Africa, think that maybe what they’re doing is just plain wrong…..sadly, perhaps never. But the airlines should not assist them by shipping their kills back to their home countries for them.

  9. Lucy McKernan says:

    Cecil, or any other lion, captive or free, studied or not, celebrated or anonymous, is worth more alive. Even though it seems a joke, in America, The Public Trust Doctrine asserts that wildlife belongs to everyone — we all have a stake. This flies in the face of the six percent “Fudds” who hunt. I don’t believe in being an animal rights apologist. An eye for an eye is what I say! Don’t worry, Palmer will have to spend the rest of his days either on the run, or always looking over his shoulder because he is now a pariah. And, yes, I research urban hunting and deer, and can absolutely claim that there is NEVER, EVER a reason that this most abundant “over populated” species should be killed. It’s ALL lies by game agencies and hunters, to have us believe that killing = conservation. What a bunch of lies and evil!!!

  10. Edith Ramirez says:

    Stop animal cruelty and The airlines must stop the transportation

  11. Paula Whiting says:

    Good for you Delta Airlines! Come “all other airlines” and join those (the majority) who do not want to see these majestic animals alienated by anyone, much less these egotistical so called human beings, men and women alike, who use the killing of living beings as a sport. Who knows what they are capable of otherwise.

    Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Why are they obsessed with killing the world’s biggest, most magnificent animals, and denying the rest of us the pleasure of sharing the earth with these creatures? What is it about the serial killing of animals that titillates them so much?

    Please don’t support their need to kill by flying their “so called” trophies.

  12. Nancy Christensen says:

    We should take pause to consider how this activity reflects upon the world’s view of the nation.

  13. Cheryl Plautz says:

    I’m glad to hear that Delta is taking a stand against transporting these trophies. These hunters have no respect or empathy for the wildlife they are killing. It’s all for their selfishness and greed. It needs to stop so these animals can live out their lives and not become destroyed and endangered because of these heartless people.

  14. debra says:

    no need for this. this man and his guides should have to pay for this abusive act.

  15. delin says:

    What are these rich mongers going to do when they have destroyed our planet and killed all our wildlife. They have never been concerned for it’s citizens as long as they make the big bucks, but when they can’t kill …boredom I suppose.

  16. Margarita Munoz says:

    In 2015, the fact that anyone thinks big game hunting should be acceptable, celebrated, promoted is truly appalling. We’re living in an era where we are far more aware of animals being as intelligent, feeling and sentient as us. Going off to kill these creatures in such barbaric ways just to boast about it back home is tacky, ridiculous, stupid, and truly makes me think these people need psychiatric help. Even if the animal was not endangered or threatened, what is the appeal in killing an innocent creature? I hope ALL the airlines jump on board and stop transporting ALL trophy kills. Really happy and proud that Delta was the first to announce a ban on the transport of these “trophies”… and I wish they would stop calling them trophies, they are corpses!

  17. skylarblu says:

    To be so BRAZEN not just because of what these _______ did. But, because Cecil, was in an area , where he was thought safe to roam his kingdom with pride, until his time came. Two things bother me more than the slaughter. One, it was I believe it is calls trending that he was offering $50k for help in killing Cecil. But, second he supposedly, had his trappers entice Cecil off the area where he was safe. By putting fresh kill in different areas to draw him out. (Who knows what thy killed for that purpose). And since Cecil was not afraid of humans. There was more than a trapped kill. WHY DID HE HAVE TO BUTCHER HIM?? His there anyway Cecil’ s head can be taken away?

  18. Marcela Robinson says:

    Stop Hunting Lions, Rhinos, Giraffes, etc.,, all these helpless creatures are endangered just because this crazy and arrogant people want to inflate their egos, with a trophy, is unthinkable at this time Africa keep allowing them to enter its territory, only to kill this beautiful creatures.
    Africa’s Government is also guilty, because still allow hunters in to the country, and collect money in order to kill the animals.

  19. Kay Snodgrass says:


  20. Liz H. says:

    I can’t sign any more of your petitions. I understand the need for fundraising but I don’t want to be hounded for a donation when I sign a petition. Generally I ignore these solicitations but it’s getting ridiculous.

    I’ll be giving my money to groups who actually do work in the field.

    Thank you.

    • Wayne Pacelle says:

      Hi Liz, I am the blog editor and wanted to address your comment, I’m very sorry that you’ve had that experience! With our emails (and mailings) you can always unsubscribe, or call our donor care department (via email at donorcare@humanesociety.org, or phone at 866-720-2676) to remove your name from our lists. It takes about 8-12 weeks to process this as some mailings may have already gone out, but I hope you consider signing the petition and supporting this cause! As for work in the field, we do a great deal of work in the field, with state directors in nearly all 50 states and Puerto Rico and our animal rescue team, in addition to all of the other programmatic work we do such as combating puppy mills, pushing for airlines to stop shipping the Africa big five, ending horse slaughter for humane consumption, just to name a few examples.

      • David P Bernazani says:

        Liz, the blog editor is understating all the immense amount of work in the field the HSUS does. With a veritable army of volunteers, their DART (Disaster Animal Rescue Team) alone has helped save thousands of animals. How do I know? I’m one of those volunteers.
        Just read a few of Wayne’s blogs to get a sense of the scope of the HSUS’s fieldwork. They cover a broad range of issues, too many to list here. You will be impressed, and, I hope, sign up to help them!

  21. Laura Miller says:

    I agree with all of other posts and urge all who fly to shun any airline who agree to the transport of these slaughtered animals. Vote with your dollars people and perhaps this un-Godly form of “tourism” read:murder can be stopped.

  22. kelly whitney sullivan says:


  23. Michael Sawyer says:

    Good for one air line now get the rest of them in line. The senseless killing of a pet
    is outrageous, hopefully he lose’s his practice & is extradited back for trial and
    spends some time in jail. (What I really want done to him I can’t print.)

  24. Janet Campbell says:

    KUDOS to Delta Airlines! Now let’s get to work on all the other airlines too! Cecil, you will not have died in vain!

  25. Greg says:

    All Airlines Should Put A Stop From Transporting Trophies of wild life & Elk HORNS.

  26. Denise says:

    This issue is SOOO much larger than the death of magnificent Cecil, WAY beyond. Cecil is bring it to light! People give back, let this open your hearts to volunteer, donate, change…..

  27. Sher says:

    Thank god for people who have good souls good minds and the good scence to know right from wrong ! To save these animals so each person can learn to enjoy and see how this earth should be treated with love and compassion for everything!!!!! Shoot pictures sAve the moment… ❤️

  28. Sher says:

    ️PS thanks Delta ! U have my ticket !

  29. Robin Krause says:

    These people justify what they’re doing because it funds great programs over there? I have a better idea. Why not donate the money and “shoot” pictures of these beautiful animals. The programs that they donate to can even throw in a really nice frame. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say: Look at the beautiful picture I “shot” hanging over my fireplace. You would be seen as a wonderful person instead of the lowest of the low! That’s a win win for everybody.

  30. Krissa says:

    A huge thank you to Delta Airlines for stepping up to do the right thing and for being a leader in helping fight against trophy hunting. Hopefully other airlines will follow suit, but a big thing here is that an airline is stepping up to cause a change that other governments and agencies should have already done a better job at. There will always be individuals who want to do something wrong (and yes, “trophy” hunting is wrong) and that’s why there are laws, etc. So again, thank you to Delta Airlines for being a leader in the fight against “trophy” hunting.

  31. Theresa Tzitzira says:

    Nature is not one person’s property, is not a toy to play with and destroy,Nature belongs to us ALL, to respect, protect & enjoy.

  32. Suely Caramelo says:

    Congratulation to Delta, please now all the airlines should follow suit.
    No more shipping of animals or hunting equipment or people with intentions of hunting,

  33. Cristina says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if these abhorrent people, considering their personal wealth, coalition between them and determination in pursuing their sick plans, could find alternative, lawful ways to bring their bloody trophies home. A private jet carrier is well within the range of someone who pays $350,000 to kill a rhino. The U.S. and EU should stand by those African countries that have banned trophy and canned hunting and ban all imports of those trophies, instead of living it to the discretion of private companies.

  34. Elly Hagens says:

    Its such a pity that richness and stupidity dont go well together.If you want to spend money in Africa than help the local people instaed of killing animals.Then you can be proud of yourself.People who hunt wildlife are disgusting people.

  35. Rob says:

    It is so easy for all the keyboard warriors here to sit back and judge, but before you fall off your high horse you should know a few facts this editorial conveniently left out. The safari guides are responsible for obtaining the necessary permits, not the guest. The meat harvested does not go home with the “hunter” (I don’t think anyone who pays someone else to find their prey is a hunter), it goes to local villages where that may be all the sustenance some of those villagers have all week. So Dr Palmer paid $54,000 to donate the meat from his kill to local villagers. Most of these safaris give the animal a more humane death than your local slaughterhouse would. Unless you’re a vegetarian, you’re no better than these safari goers. Either that or you believe the meat you buy at the local grocery store is made there.

  36. Bea Herrmann says:

    Thank you United Airlines. Now it is time to stop importing ALL ‘trophy hunting’ goods from across the world, especially Africa. Please, ALL airlines follow suite and stop importing what some call animal ‘trophies’. Thank you.

    To get up-to-date on what trophy hunting is all about, please read this: http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/17982889-95/my-turn-its-time-to-end-the-ego-sport-of-trophy-hunting

  37. Carol Rollins says:

    Delta taking the lead of airlines banning the shipment of these beautiful animals should be applauded. Thank you Delta

  38. Tina Lurz-Osterhoudt says:

    If we stop the reward of getting a “Trophy” then the killing of these animals will decrease markedly.

  39. B. Float says:

    There needs to be lawsuits filed against every trophy hunter on behalf of the world population for robbing our Earth of our wildlife, the mass emotional distress they have caused and harm to our shared environment. It can be funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Hold them 100% accountable. The biggest deterrent there is. HSUS please lead the way, the support of the world is behind you. This world is out of time.

  40. Margarita says:

    In 2015, the fact that anyone thinks big game hunting should be acceptable, celebrated, promoted is truly appalling. We’re living in an era where we are far more aware of animals being as intelligent, feeling and sentient as us. Going off to kill these creatures in such barbaric ways just to boast about it back home is tacky, ridiculous, stupid, and truly makes me think these people need psychiatric help. Even if the animal was not endangered or threatened, what is the appeal in killing an innocent creature? I hope ALL the airlines jump on board and stop transporting ALL trophy kills. Really happy and proud that Delta was the first to announce a ban on the transport of these “trophies”… and I wish they would stop calling them trophies, they are corpses.

  41. Anne Smith says:

    Thank you Delta and United Airlines. I hope that all airlines will not carry these poor slaughtered wild animals. Killing for the sake of killing is wrong, and no one should be involved in any way. Trophies should be only given for special events, and not put on peoples wall to show how macho, they think they are. Stupid!

  42. Mike says:

    Stop the senseless murders of magnificent species that are facing extinction. Enough already!

  43. Barbara says:

    Why do I get the feeling he, and many others like him, have no shame or remorse about this kill? There are no words for such a lowly man – if he can be called that.

  44. Barbara C says:

    So if these “hunters” are so supportive of conservation why don’t they pay to track the animals then take pictures of them. That way they donate to conservation and actually conserve the animals !!

    And BTW Rob, Cecil was beheaded, skinned and his body left to rot. To say Palmer was donating meat to local villagers is ridiculous, dishonest and just another example of disinformation put out by these rich, organised hunters who are in reality no better than poachers.

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