LETTER: Praise for Virgin Atlantic Airways

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Virgin Atlantic Airways, based in Crawley, deserves praise for banning the shipment of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and cape buffalo “trophies” – the so-called “Africa Big Five,” some of the rarest and most majestic animals in the world.

The senseless and unjust killing of Cecil the lion by a US dentist was not an isolated incident. Every year, trophy hunters - including British citizens - have been killing hundreds of lions, simply because they want their heads over the mantle or their furs on the floor. And it’s not just lions and elephants, untold thousands of African animals, large and small, are gunned down by Westerners simply for the thrill of the kill.

We commend Virgin Airlines for making clear that it wants no part in being a getaway vehicle for the theft of Africa’s wildlife. By refusing to fly the ‘trophies’ of Africa’s largest wildlife, Virgin is sending a powerful signal about protecting Africa’s wild animals and the many economic benefits they bring to nations that trade on life-affirming eco-tourism programs. Thank you Virgin Airways for doing the right thing for animals and conservation.

Claire Bass, executive director, Humane Society International UK

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