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South African Airways imposes embargo on hunting trophies


FOUR PAWS welcomes the embargo on transporting hunting trophies of lion, tiger, elephant and rhino.

South African Airways (SAA) has issued a transport embargo on trophies of lions, elephants, rhinos and tigers. The global ban is effective immediately and does not allow any exceptions. FOUR PAWS welcomes this decision and calls on other airlines to follow this positive example.

© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

The transport ban is a key milestone in the fight to end the mass killing of animals in South Africa for their ‘trophies’.  With approximately 1,000 lions being killed each year in South Africa for trophy hunting, this embargo from a major South African airline sends a strong message that this killing is unethical and must be stopped.


Research by FOUR PAWS UK indicates there are around 6000 lions being held in South African lion farms. The animals are bred to be shot in an enclosure for their ‘trophy’ or used for other terrible profit driven activities such as petting farms, “conservation” projects and the lion bone trade. Currently captive bred lions have no legal protection in South Africa and even tigers are offered from the same farms for trophy hunting.  The EU and the US are the two largest importers of lion trophies and between 2007 and 2012 the United States imported 400 lions trophies annually, while  the EU Member States imported 200.


Kieran Harkin, Head of Programmes at FOUR PAWS UK:


“We are very pleased that South African Airways has placed an embargo on hunting trophies. This sends a strong message to the appalling trophy hunting industry and is another significant step in combatting the illegal wildlife trade. In South Africa lions specifically are kept in the most unnatural conditions from the day they are born to the day they are killed for their trophy. Throughout South Africa, one can pose with lion cubs or hand raise them during an expensive volunteer project or simply visit a predator park. As the animals become used to human contact they are then not afraid when approached by amateur hunters. To call it a hunting industry is farcical, as it is not even a requirement to have a hunting license or any experience of shooting to kill one of these majestic animals. South African Airways has to be commended in its decision and I sincerely hope other major airlines will follow suit and help us put an end to this large scale killing.”


For years FOUR PAWS has fought for an end to canned hunting in South Africa.   The FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary LIONSROCK offers refuge for rescued lions from breeding or hunting farms.