Delta Air Lines bans big-game trophies

Public outcry over an international incident often has the power to spark debates around seldom –discussed or controversial topics.

One notable such incident from this year has been the hunting down and killing of Cecil the Lion – a much-loved and famous member of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park – by an American dentist. After the dentist was identified as the person who allegedly lured Cecil out of his protected enclosure to kill him, the internet was flooded with incensed reactions from across the world, from civilians and animal welfare activists.

So impassioned was the backlash that barely a week after the incident, Delta Airlines, which flies direct to South Africa, announcedthat it would no longer allow the shipment of endangered animal trophies (or big-game trophies) on its flights.




















    The petition on


Delta’s move was a direct result of a petition urging the airline to end the shipment of big-game trophies. With its decision, Delta is joining (and inspiring) an increasing number of airlines who have taken a stand against safari hunting, and in favor of conservation of Africa’s celebrated Big Five: the lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino.

Public sentiment is pushing companies to rethink their business policies

The hunting of Cecil by a tourist – brought to light the significant role airlines play in propagating trophy kills. Export of exotic animal hunting trophies is big business, both for the hunters and the airlines that carry them in their cargo.

It’s interesting to note that a few months before the incident, Delta issued a statement saying that they would continue the shipment of trophy kills, as long as they were legal. The intense backlash post Cecil’s death pushed the company to change its stand. In addition to Delta, American airlines and United airways have made similar announcements. An international group of airlines is calling for an industry-wide ban against carry hunting trophies.

The incident also triggered reactions from various establishments – the Empire State Building paid its first ever video tribute to honor Cecil and other endangered animals; and plush-toy maker Ty launched ‘Cecil the Lion’ toys to raise funds for endangered animals.

The internet has resulted in a world where news has no borders. Businesses are more scrutinized than ever for their behaviors, and are expected to act in a socially responsible manner. Delta’s change of heart is indicative of the growing trend – or rather, priority – amongst companies to become more purpose oriented.

This post is a part of our People’s Insights monthly brief for August & September, Innovation without Boundaries.

Melanie Joe

Melanie Joe

Melanie is Consultant - Research and Insights at MSLGROUP, based in Mumbai. She tracks inspiring initiatives in the digital space for People's Insights.

One Response to “Delta Air Lines bans big-game trophies”

  1. MSLGROUP Peoples Lab (@PeoplesLab)

    Delta Air Lines banning big-game trophies – an indication of the power of public opinion to change business policies


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