Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who helped Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer kill Cecil the Lion in July, was arrested in Zimbabwe after allegedly attempting to smuggle 29 rare antelope in to South Africa.
Bloomberg Business reports that Bronkhorst was arrested in the southern town of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday, according to Zimbabwe's national parks association.
“He is facing charges of moving wild animals without a permit” and smuggling of wild animals, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said in a statement, as reported by Nehanda Radio.
The 52-year-old has been charged after three South Africans -- 49-year-old Hewitt Edwin, 41-year-old Blignaut Hendricks Johannes, and 49-year-old Pretorius Herbert John -- allegedly attempted to transport 29 sable, a rare and expensive antelope breed prized for their long horns, from Zimbabwe in to South Africa. The three men also face charges of illegal capture and translocation of wildlife in addition to illegally crossing an international boundary, wildlife authorities said.
The men allegedly captured the animals, which are valued at $384,000 and include six calves, from a private conservancy in a northwest resort town.
“The only thing where Theo was involved is he facilitated their importation into Zimbabwe,” an anonymous friend of Bronkhorst's told AFP, adding that the hunter had only helped the group secure an import permit from Zambia to Zimbabwe.
“They moved them and obviously lied to him that they had an agreement to move them to some property in the West Nicholson area,” the friend said.
West Nicholson is located in between Bulawayo and Zimbabwe's South African border.
Authorities caught the group when the cars transporting the sable got stuck on a river near the border, according to local media.
Bronkhorst is currently out on bail after a court charged him with helping illegally hunt Cecil the Lion, a popular feline who had been tagged and tracked for Oxford University research, Bloomberg News reports.
The game industry in South Africa often auctions animals such as sable and buffalo for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each.