An American dentist from Minnesota who hunted down and killed a beloved lion in Zimbabwe expressed regret over its death but claimed that the hunt was legal.
“To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” said Walter Palmer, 55, in a statement to the StarTribune.
“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he said. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
The dentist reportedly paid more than $54,000 for the safari. The two men hired by Palmer lured the 13-year-old lion, known as Cecil, outside of the Hwange National Park, the BBC reported.
They were identified as Theo Bronchorst, a professional hunter, and Honest Trymore Ndlovu, a landowner, according to a statement on the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s website.
“The lion named ‘Cecil’ was well known and regularly sighted by tourists in the main camp area of Hwange National Park,” the park authority said.
Authorities identified Minnesota dentist Walt Palmer as the killer of Cecil, one of Zimbabwe’s most famous and oldest lions. Photo: Zimbabwe National Parks/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Cecil, who had been fitted with a GPS device as part of a research project by Oxford University, was initially injured from an arrow shot by Palmer. The group then spent another 40 hours to track him down and shoot him with a rifle, according to reports.
Palmer is said to have skinned and beheaded Cecil after the killing.
The men hired by Palmer are already in custody on poaching charges. Palmer told the StarTribune that he will cooperate with investigators.
Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, earlier told the BBC that the lion never bothered anyone. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at,” he said.
Reports of Cecil’s brutal death sparked an outrage on the Internet.
— PETA Shares (@PETAShares) July 28, 2015
“You lured the animal out of protected territory and killed it for “sport”. Where is the sport in that?” asked one person. Others called him a “monster” and a “disgusting human being.”
The dentist office’s Facebook page was removed amid similar backlash.
Source: Market Watch