Hunting clubs and rhino hunter Corey Knowlton have filed a lawsuit against Delta over trophy hunting controversies.
Delta Airlines is being sued by hunting clubs and a hunter who paid $350,000 for a license to hunt a black rhino in Nambia. The premise of the suit states a “ban on transporting some big game trophies hurts conservation efforts and violates its global obligations.”
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Texas last Thursday. The rhino hunter Corey Knowlton (of RadioLab’s “Rhino Hunter” podcast), Dallas Safari Club, the Houston Safari Clubs, and others believe the transport of the trophies are allowed under strict systems of global permits and Delta must abide by its obligations.
Delta has been proactive in making it harder to transport hunted animals from Africa. Delta was one of the three U.S. airlines in August to ban the transport of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos or buffalo killed by trophy hunters. This was all pushed by the swarm of major publicity around killing of Cecil the Lion about a month earlier.
Delta is the only airline that offers a direct service between Johannesburg and the United States, and therefore its new ban carries the most authority among the trophy hunting community.
Hunting in South Africa offers big money. Officially, 11 African countries issue lion-hunting permits. According to the Professional Hunters Association, South Africa’s hunting industry is the biggest, valued over $675 million a year.
The cargo division of South Africa’s national carrier, SAA, lifted the embargo that was set in place in April on the transport of legally-acquired trophies of African lion and elephant, rhinoceros and tiger.
It’s difficult to predict the future of bringing home various trophies from Africa, but South Africa’s Environment Minister Edna Molewa had this to say:
“It should be remembered that hundreds of legally acquired wildlife specimens, such as hunting trophies, pass through our main ports of entry and exit monthly without incident. Penalizing an entire industry for the illegal actions of the few is not in the country’s best interests.”
How do you feel about Delta’s new policy, and this lawsuit in particular?