Massive adverse publicity given to the slaughter of a much-loved lion by an American dentist turned big-game hunter has turned on South African Airways. A Cape Town-based wildlife photographer is circulating an international petition to stop SAA transporting wildlife trophies.
The petition wants SAA to join carriers like Delta, United, Virgin, British Airways and Emirates, and ban carriage of such trophies.
The controversy began when US dentist Walter Palmer was revealed to have killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. Palmer is believed to have paid USD 61,000 (AUD 83,000) to shoot Cecil, a well-known local lion who wore a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study. Palmer used a high-powered bow and arrow. The animal is said to have been badly wounded and taken a long time to die.
Just as most people are delighted and impressed to view and photograph Africa’s magnificent wild animals, a few feel satisfied only if they can kill the animals as well. High-powered rifles and ultra-powerful, hi-tech bows and arrows are the favourite weapons. Other animals are killed by poachers, who shoot animals illegally or poison waterholes.
Not long after Cecil the lion’s death, a woman called Sabrina Corgatelli, who lives in the US state of Idaho, proclaimed her delight at killing African wildlife with a bow and arrow.
“Day #2 I got a amazing old Giraffe. Such a amazing animal!! I couldn’t be any happier!! My emotion after getting him was a feeling I will never forget!!!” Corgatelli boasted. She later explained that “giraffes are very dangerous animals. They could hurt you seriously very quickly”.
The comments have provoked worldwide revulsion and outrage on social media.
Now, wildlife photographer Regina Fugate of Cape Town in South Africa is circulating a petition via Change.org headed: “Gruesomely killed for fun”.
The petition encourages people to “tell South African Airways to stop shipping slaughtered wildlife trophies”. The petition gained over 150,000 signatures very rapidly yesterday and at last glance this morning was poised to top 320,000.
The petition reads:
“Endangered African animals such as the rhino, elephant, leopard, and lions are being hunted and poached to extinction. As the national carrier, South African Airways has a moral obligation to safeguard these precious animals, but it recently went back on its commitment to ban transport of these trophy animals.
“Please sign my petition asking South African Airways to stop supporting wildlife slaughter by trophy hunters.
“After Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe, many airlines including Delta woke up and realized it’s bad business and poor conservation policy to support the slaughter of some of the most incredible wild animals on the planet – Delta, United, Virgin, British Airways, Emirates, and many other airlines now have global bans on transport of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo).
“As someone with a passion for wildlife photography and who lives in South Africa, I can tell you photography tourism brings more income to the lodges, its surrounding communities, and South African Airways, as the same animals are being photographed, over and over again. Wealthy trophy hunters are exploiting Africa’s animals in a cruel, shameful way!
“Once an animal is dead, it’s gone. One by one they will disappear if the hunting continues, and South African Airways is enabling trophy hunters to slaughter these animals despite global criticism.
“Other airlines have listened to customers. We can make this change if we work together to show South African Airways it’s bad business to ship slaughtered wildlife.
“Please sign my petition asking South African Airways to join other airlines who commit to stop transporting these animals gruesomely killed for fun.
You can sign the petition by clicking here.
Written by Peter Needham