One of Zimbabwe’s most famous lions was reportedly killed by an American hunter, angering conservation groups.
Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, reportedly paid around $55,000 to shoot and kill Cecil, the renowned lion, with a bow and arrow.
Conservation groups have reacted negatively to the killing, noting that Cecil was known to enjoy human contact with visitors. Additionally, many conservationists have complained that the 13-year-old animal was lured out of the national park to be shot.
“He never bothered anybody,” Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said, according to The Telegraph. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”
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A representative for Palmer noted that Palmer had all the legal permits to hunt the lion and was led by professional guides.
“He’s not denying that he may be the person who shot this lion,” the representative said, reports Daily Mail. “He is a big game hunter; he hunts the world over.”
Organizers, who later admitted the hunt was badly carried out, noted that Cecil had been lured out of the national park at night with bait. He was then shot with a bow and arrow and found the next day by the hunters. Cecil was killed, then beheaded and skinned.
The killing is especially sensitive because it's illegal to kill animals inside the national park.
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Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst reported the “mistake” to Parks and Wildlife Management Authority the next day. The owner of the land bordering the national park, where Cecil was killed, and Bronkhorst have both been charged and are expected to appear in court.
Bronkhorst noted that he was unaware of Cecil’s fame and said that he held a license for his client to shoot the animal.
Rodrigues said charges of poaching should be brought against all parties involved.
Photo credit: Fedgeno, Wikimedia Commons