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Air Canada bans shipment of animal trophies

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 4:58 PM - On Tuesday, Air Canada announced it will no longer permit the shipment of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros or Cape buffalo trophies worldwide as freight. The move is part of a growing trend, with Delta, United and American Airlines making similar announcements over the past few days.

Air Canada continues to permit the transport of animals which can be legally hunted in Canada, such as black and grizzly bears, the CBC reports. The airline does not permit the transport of protected species, like polar bears.

Canadian carrier WestJet told the CBC it does not fly to destinations where Africa's "big five" animals -- lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards and Cape buffalos -- can be hunted. Still, the airline says it will not carry "big five" trophies.

RELATED: 'Lion killer' dentist sought by authorities

The announcement comes after American dentist Walter Palmer used a bow and arrow to hunt a beloved lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe in early July. The incident has sparked international outrage, sending Palmer into hiding.

Wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe have temporarily halted the hunting of big cats and elephants around Hwange National Park, near the site where Cecil was killed.

Authorities made the announcement Tuesday, after more than 1 million people signed an online petition demanding justice for Cecil.

"Hunting of lions, leopards and elephant in areas outside of Hwange National Park has been suspended with immediate effect," Edson Chidziya, head of Zimbabwe's parks and wildlife authority Zimparks, said in a statement.

"All such hunts will only be conducted if confirmed and authorized in writing by the Director-General of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and only if accompanied by parks staff."

Park officials have also suspended hunting with bows and arrows, except when permission is granted.

While animal activists are celebrating the news, critics worry the temporary ban will be lifted once international pressure dies down.

Sources: The CBC | 9News

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