American dentist had killed Zimbabwe's popular 'Cecil the lion' with a bow, arrow

By AFP
Published: July 28, 2015
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This handout picture taken on October 21, 2012 and released on July 28, 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called "Cecil" which was allegedly killed by an American tourist on a hunt using a bow and arrow. PHOTO: AFP

This handout picture taken on October 21, 2012 and released on July 28, 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called "Cecil" which was allegedly killed by an American tourist on a hunt using a bow and arrow. PHOTO: AFP

HARARE: A wealthy American dentist used a bow and arrow to shoot a much-loved Zimbabwean lion called Cecil, a safari industry goup said Tuesday, amid allegations that the animal had taken 40 hours to die.

The lion, which was a popular attraction among many international visitors to the Hwange National Park, was lured outside the park’s boundaries by bait and shot earlier this month.

“The offender is a gentleman who is an American called Walter James Palmer,” Emmanuel Fundira, president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, said at a news conference in the capital Harare.

“A lot of people travel long distances coming to Zimbabwe to enjoy our wildlife and obviously the absence of Cecil is a disaster.”

Fundira described Cecil as “almost semi-domesticated” and said that Palmer had paid about $50,000 for the hunt.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force charity said Palmer and professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst had gone out at night with a spotlight and tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil into range.

“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 charity alleged.

It added that the hunters unsuccessfully tried to hide the dead lion’s tracking collar, which was part of a University of Cambridge research programme.

“Cecil was skinned and beheaded. We don’t know the whereabouts of the head,” the charity alleged.

Cecil, aged about 13, was said by safari operators to be an “iconic” animal who was recognised by many visitors to Hwange due to his distinctive black mane.

Hwange attracted 50,000 visitors last year, about half of them from abroad.

Bronkhorst and local landowner Honest Ndlovu will appear in court in Victoria Falls on Wednesday to face poaching charges.

“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 Zimbabwean Parks Authority said in a statement Tuesday.

“(They) are being jointly charged for illegally hunting the lion.”

The statement made no mention of Palmer, but added that Bronkhorst’s son Zane was also wanted for questioning.

Palmer, whose whereabouts was not known, is an experienced trophy hunter from Minnesota.

He is well-known in US hunting circles as an expert shot with his bow and arrow, and has travelled across the world in pursue of leopards, buffalo rhino, elk and other large mammals.

His dentistry’s website and Facebook page appeared to have been closed down on Tuesday after being flooded by fierce criticism.

Some hunting of lions and other large animals is legal in countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, where permits are issued allowing hunters to kill specific older beasts that are beyond breeding age.

It is outlawed in Zimbabwe’s national parks.

“We use hunting as a conservation tool,” Fundira said. “Hunting is only based on animals which have been vigorously checked in terms of qualifying.”

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Cecil had cubs, which were likely to be killed by the lion that took over in the group’s hierarchy.

In May, a Texan hunter shot an elderly black rhinoceros in Namibia after buying a government-issued licence for $350,000.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Raj - USA
    Jul 29, 2015 - 2:11AM

    “The offender is a gentleman who is an American called Walter James Palmer,” Emmanuel Fundira, president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, said at a news conference in the capital Harare.

    Gentleman ???????

    I don’t think so. Totally wrong way to describe him.

    He is worse than an animal.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Jul 29, 2015 - 2:31AM

    The Zimbabwean government should issue paid licenses for hunting these sick bounty hunting idiots. What a beautiful animal gone for nothing but human greed.Recommend

  • Point
    Jul 29, 2015 - 3:08AM

    USA will be like , “We are sorry” . The dentist was mentally ill for the last few weeks. Recommend

  • Snowden
    Jul 29, 2015 - 3:17AM

    What do you expect from Americans armed with money? They lure and then hunt.Recommend

  • Anon
    Jul 29, 2015 - 5:13AM

    Justice should be served. The American should not be able to get away Recommend

  • Zafar
    Jul 29, 2015 - 6:41AM

    Human beings are prone to acting quite inhuman. This is a disgrace. Unpardonable act. Both the guys should be made an example of. Absolutely deplorable.Recommend

  • Jul 29, 2015 - 9:31AM

    James Palmer should be arrested and charged immediately for this crime. It’s obvious he knows what he is doing and has the sole intent of killing the lion even before traveling to southern Africa for him to have paid that huge some of money. The crime is even more grievous than poaching. Recommend

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