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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Delta Airlines Bans Transport of African Hunting Trophies

In a number of African countries, hunting big game is perfectly legal, provides an income stream, and food for villagers as well as other conservation benefits.  Even a wildlife biologist who admits to disliking hunting has written how it can benefit wildlife in Africa when done correctly.

In response to killing of the Zimbabwe lion known as "Cecil," Senator Bob Menedez (D. NJ) rushed to ban bringing trophies from hunts back into the country.  While that would not prevent Americans who desire to hunt African big game from doing so, it would likely make the practice less desirable if they could not import mounts back into this country.  Now Delta Airlines has posted a notice that they will not allow African big game trophies to be transported on their flights.  From North American Hunter:
Delta issued the following statement:
Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight. Prior to this ban, Delta's strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Uninformed activism is the most dangerous thing this country faces every day. Or, said in another way: People acting on incorrect information will ALWAYS do more harm than good to themselves and others. Period.
While anti-hunting activists rush to use this one incident to their advantage, there is another side to the debate as pointed out in this Op/Ed by a Zimbabwe native that was published in yesterday's New York Times:
Cecil who? I wondered. When I turned on the news and discovered that the messages were about a lion killed by an American dentist, the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine.

My excitement was doused when I realized that the lion killer was being painted as the villain. I faced the starkest cultural contradiction I’d experienced during my five years studying in the United States.

Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from “The Lion King”?
 
In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror.
 
When I was 9 years old, a solitary lion prowled villages near my home. After it killed a few chickens, some goats and finally a cow, we were warned to walk to school in groups and stop playing outside. My sisters no longer went alone to the river to collect water or wash dishes; my mother waited for my father and older brothers, armed with machetes, axes and spears, to escort her into the bush to collect firewood.
 
A week later, my mother gathered me with nine of my siblings to explain that her uncle had been attacked but escaped with nothing more than an injured leg. The lion sucked the life out of the village: No one socialized by fires at night; no one dared stroll over to a neighbor’s homestead.
 
When the lion was finally killed, no one cared whether its murderer was a local person or a white trophy hunter, whether it was poached or killed legally. We danced and sang about the vanquishing of the fearsome beast and our escape from serious harm.
Maybe instead of being caught up in the emotional meme being painted by the media and anti-hunting activists, those calling for an end to African big game hunting should consider the bigger picture.

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