An American dentist from Minnesota faces poaching charges according to Zimbabwean police.
Originally believed to be a Spaniard man, it has now been revealed Cecil was in fact killed by American dentist Walter Palmer (according to the Zimbabwean Conservation).
13-year-old Cecil the Lion was a popular attraction in Zimbabwe and was known for his striking black mane. At the time of his killing he was also a subject in an Oxford University (Britain) study, and had been fitted with a GPS Collar.
According to Walter Palmer’s Spokesman, Palmer was “obviously quite upset over everything… as far as I understand, Walter believes that he might have shot the lion that has been referred to as Cecil”.
Palmer himself has claimed that neither Zimbabwean or American officials has yet tried to contact him, but he is willing to co-operate and answer any questions that may be asked. Talking on the subject of Cecil, Palmer explains “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt… I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
Johnny Rodrigues (chairman of The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force charity) explains that the killing of Cecil was not only illegal but cruel “They went hunting at night with a spotlight, and they spotted Cecil…They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park, and they scented an area about half a kilometer from the park.
“Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn’t kill him… They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun. The hunters then found that the dead lion was wearing a tracking collar, which they unsuccessfully tried to hide”. Rodrigues claims that the hunter did in fact find a tracking device, which he then subsequently attempted to destroy, contradicts Palmers claim that he was unaware of the lions GPS tracking.
It is believed that Cecil was skinned and beheaded, although the head was allegedly not found. The unknown whereabouts of the head raised concerns that it had been exported as some form of trophy, but on Tuesday Rodrigues said that the head was actually in a Zimbabwean impound and would be used in the investigation as evidence.
“The saddest part of all is that, now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females,” Rodrigues explained that “This is standard procedure for lions.”
Palmer had been accompanied on his hunt by professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst; according to Rodrigues “Walter Palmer apparently paid $50,000 for the kill and we assume Theo Bronkhorst received this money.”
Both Bronkhorst and the local landowner Honest Ndlovu, will appear in court to face poaching charges, with The Zimbabwean Parks & Wildlife Authority explaining that “Both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt”.
The men could face up to 15 years imprisonment if found guilty, and according to a police spokeswoman Palmer also faces poaching charges “We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case”.
Palmer insists that he is remorseful “I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity that I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion”.
Further details of a separate case have come to light, showing that this may not be the first time Palmer has hunted illegally. In 2006 A man of the same name, age and location to Palmer was found guilty of illegally killing a black bear in Wisconsin; he pleaded guilty in regards to making false statements to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. He was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine as well as being given a one-year probation (according to records).
Unsuccessful attempts have been made to contact Palmers lawyer on the subject, with Palmers spokesman explaining that although he is aware of that case he has no information.
Becky A @Bex18W