Hunters looking to haul their dead animal “trophies” home to boast will have to mark this option off the list. In a refreshingly bold move, South African Airlines has declared that carcasses of endangered rhinos, elephants, and lions will no longer be flown on their planes.
SAA country manager Tim Clyde-Smith made the announcement, acknowledging that “hunting of endangered species” is a “major problem,” not just in South Africa, but throughout the continent. Said Clyde-Smith, “In consultation with key authorities, SAA will no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin.”
So what does this mean exactly? Let’s say that a wealthy Texan with a lot of ammo and no regard for the life and majesty of the African elephant decides to kill an animal in South Africa. In trying to get his precious trophy home through South African Airways, he’ll be met with a big fat, “NO.” As SAA happens to be the largest airline operating in Africa, this smack-down is a strong statement – and one I wholeheartedly applaud.
The wake-up call happened for SAA when elephant tusks were discovered by airline workers in a shipment that was purposely mislabeled as “machinery spare parts.” That shipment was seized.
But it’s not just a legal issue. Thankfully, the airline is making no distinction between poachers and big game hunters. Because no matter what the law says, if we don’t work to protect elephants, rhinos, lions and other popular hunting targets, we all lose.
Will this eliminate poaching and big game hunting in South Africa? Probably not. But it’s a great step in the right direction. Hopefully, other airlines will follow South African Airways’ lead – and soon.