There are mounting calls for the prosecution of an American dentist who shot dead one of Africa’s most famous lions, as two other men involved in the hunt appeared in court in Zimbabwe to face poaching charges.Cecil the lion’s death has prompted calls to ban trophy hunt imports to the US.
Walter Palmer, who runs a dental practice in Minnesota and hunts big game in his spare time, is accused of illegally killing Cecil, a protected lion, in Zimbabwe on a $50,000 (£32,000) hunt.
Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, and Honest Ndlovu, a local landowner, appeared in court in Victoria Falls on Wednesday.
Cecil, a popular attraction among international visitors to Hwange national park, was lured outside the reserve’s boundaries by bait and killed earlier this month.The dentist left the lion skinned and headless on the outskirts of the park,chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force Johnny Rodrigues said.
The hunt took place around 6 July. “They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” Rodrigues said. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park.”
The hunter first shot at Cecil with a bow and arrow but failed to kill the lion. “They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun,” Rodrigues said.
The Minnesota dentist’s killing of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion just outside a national wildlife preserve has unleashed death threats and a global firestorm of hate messages on social media.
About 200 people protested on Wednesday outside the suburban Minneapolis office of Walter Palmer, 55, calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face charges.
Palmer, an avid big game hunter, said in a statement on Tuesday he regrets killing Zimbabwe’s most famous lion on July 1. He said he had hired professional local guides who secured hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.
Cecil, was rare black-maned lion.It was fitted with a GPS collar for a research project by scientists from Oxford University and was one of the oldest and most famous lions in Zimbabwe.
Palmer temporarily closed his office in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Tuesday as criticism grew of his killing of Cecil and negative business reviews flooded Google and Yelp.Justice-thirsty Cecil fans have taken matters into their own hands to ensure Palmer is punished for killing the lion, flooding his cosmetic dentistry business’s Yelp page with vitriolic reviews and comments.