Killing of Cecil the Lion Prompts Major U.S. Airlines to Ban Trophy Hunting Shipments
Amid global uproar sparked by the killing of Cecil the lion by American trophy hunter Walter Palmer, three major U.S. airlines—Delta, American and United—have followed in the footsteps of several international carriers and announced bans on the shipment of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo, otherwise known as the "African Big Five."
Photo credit: Change.org
Airlines play a major role in trophy hunting as it allows hunters to bring home their "prize." Animal advocates have long been pressuring carriers to change their policies, even before Cecil died at the hands of the Minnesota dentist in Zimbabwe. A Change.org petition launched three months ago, and signed by nearly 400,000 people, urged Delta specifically to enact this shipment ban, since it's the only U.S. carrier with direct service to South Africa (which has the largest hunting industry in Africa, according to The New York Times).
"Last year, more than a thousand rhinos were poached in South Africa, elephant populations have plummeted 66 percent in just five years and the export of lion 'trophies' has increased ten-fold—hunters bringing home animals' heads and bodies to stuff and mount," the petition states.
Petitioners urged Delta to follow after South African Airways (SAA), which had banned all transport of exotic animal cargo this past April, and prompted Emirates, Lufthansa and British Airways to enact similar bans soon after, according to the Times.
Then, following the international outrage of the beloved Zimbabwe lion's death, several foreign airlines—Air France, KLM, Iberia, IAG Cargo, Singapore Airlines and Qantas—announced a ban on shipments of exotic animals last week.
— NY Times Travel (@nytimestravel) August 3, 2015
In a domino effect, three top U.S. carriers have now joined the growing movement. It's a significant victory for those opposed to trophy hunting, as the 15,000 American tourists who visit Africa on hunting safaris annually make up the majority of non-African hunters, the Times reported.
"Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight," Delta announced Monday afternoon. "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."
American Airlines sent out this tweet Monday night:
Effective immediately, we will no longer transport buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion or rhino trophies.
— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) August 4, 2015
And today in a report from The Washington Post, United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said that the airline “does not ship” the five big game animals as freight and “we have not done so previously.”
“United also follows all U.S. domestic and international regulations, which prohibits the possession of trophies or other items associated with protected species,” she added. Big game shipment is now officially prohibited by United moving forward.
The policy shift from Delta, American and United was praised by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Lions, elephants and the other species that make up the Africa Big Five belong on the savanna, not on the walls and in home museums of wealthy people who spend a fortune to kill the grandest, most majestic animals in the world,” Pacelle said in a statement yesterday. “Delta has set a great example, and no airline should provide a getaway vehicle for the theft of Africa’s wildlife by these killers.”
Meanwhile, pressure is building to bring justice to Cecil's grisly killing by Palmer, who is currently in hiding. Zimbabwe is seeking the extradition of the 55 year old, who allegedly paid $50,000 to shoot, kill and behead the famous lion.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 31, 2015
As Reuters noted, a million-signature-strong Change.org petition is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list African lions as a threatened species and punishment for those involved in Cecil's death. While including the African lion to the U.S. list would not stamp out trophy hunting, it does require a permit from the service to import lions or their body parts to the U.S., Reuters pointed out.
The Times reported that the current lion population has dipped to 35,000 (compared to 100,000 a century ago) and dropped considerably in the last three years, prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose listing the lion as a threatened species.
While efforts from these airlines to stamp out trophy hunting should be applauded, it doesn't eliminate the problem entirely. Unfortunately, South African Airlines—which helped kick start the exotic animal import ban—"lifted a ban on the transportation of animal-hunt heads and carcasses in its aircraft," Bloomberg reported.
And just today, The Guardian reported that on July 6, customs officials at Zurich airport seized 578 pounds of illegal ivory being transported from Tanzania to Beijing via Zurich. It's estimated that the contraband might have come from up to 50 elephants and worth 400,000 Swiss francs (roughly $410,000) on the illegal market.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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