Emirates is the latest airline to refuse transportation of hunting trophies: victory for animal conservation or just empty words fueled by anti-hunting agenda?
The world's third largest cargo airline, Dubai-based Emirates SkyCargo, issued a statement earlier this month banning the transportation of animal hunting trophies. The airline currently has a ban in place for all Appendix 1 listed CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) animals but their most recent announcement goes beyond CITES listed animals to also include a ban on any transportation of elephant, rhino, lion, and tiger hunting trophies.
A statement from a spokesman stated, "We will not accept any kind of hunting trophies of these animals for carriage on Emirates services irrespective of CITES appendix."
Emirates SkyCargo is the second airline this year to issue such a ban following South African Airways decision to stop all transport of elephant, rhino, lion, and tiger trophies on their flights.
The rhetoric of these statements are largely aimed at hunters with a South African Airway's manager, Tim Clyde-Smith, saying his airline will "no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin" and "hunting of endangered species has become a major problem in Africa and elsewhere with the depletion to near extinction of wildlife that once roamed in prolific numbers. SAA has taken the step of banning all transportation of animals killed in hunting activity as a result."
Interestingly, tigers, one of the animals specifically banned by both airlines, are not native to Africa and have not been legally hunted since the 1980s. Also, the Emirates and South African Airways bans come after two separate incidences involving illegally traded ivory.
In April, six tons of ivory seized from smugglers in Dubai was destroyed. Also in April, a large shipment of illegal ivory labeled as machine parts was discovered on a South Africa Airways flight while on a stopover in Australia. The shipment was destined for Malaysia and the crates had been mislabeled at the flight's origin in South Africa.
Both of these incidences spurned the airlines' bans on "hunting trophies" despite the fact that the ivory in both occasions was in large quantities and from illegal poaching for the purpose of the illegal ivory trade -- not legal hunting by hunters.
Anti-hunters have been quick to applaud the airline's decision with headlines aimed at hunters including comments such as "It just got harder for big game hunters to bring endangered animal trophies back home from South Africa to hang on their wall."
Other examples include:
"It's no secret that Africa is suffering from a huge problem with a growing number of these 'trophy hunters' -- otherwise known as wealthy tourists who travel to the continent to legally kill wild animals and have them transported home to show them off -- as if killing an innocent animal is something to be proud of" (Brianne Hogan, Ecorazzi.com)
"Victory! Major Airline Bans the Transport of Hunting Trophies" (Alicia Graef, care2.com)
Despite the documentation of ever-increasing rates of illegal poaching, vastly fueled by Asian traditional medicine, legal hunters continue to be targeted. This blatant mislabeling of hunters as villains instead of poachers is driven by ignorance and anti-hunting agendas.
Just this month, the World Bank approved a grant to boost hunting programs as a conservation tool in Mozambique. World Bank spokesman Madji Seck stated, "Hunting blocks in Mozambique have played the role of protected areas, hosting important fauna and flora that are under very high threat in unprotected zones."
However, important conservation developments like these often get overlooked due to the refusal of many media sources to present positive stories involving hunting.
It remains to be seen if the Emirates and South African Airways bans will be enough to curb the powerful poaching world and actually help conserve at-risk animals or if it is merely another trophy for anti-hunters to hang on their wall.