Dentist ‘Should Be Extradited’ For Killing Lion
WATER, Environment and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri has said US dentist Walter Palmer should be extradited for the “illegal” killing of Cecil the lion.
Muchinguri described Palmer as a “foreign poacher” who financed an illegal hunt.
She said she understood the Prosecutor-General had started the process to have him extradited from the US.
“The illegal killing was deliberate,” Muchinguri told a news conference on Friday
“We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action.”
The US has an extradition agreement with Zimbabwe, so in theory he could be sent there to face the legal system if charges are filed.
Mr Palmer, from Minnesota, has said in a statement that he regretted the killing, but added that he had relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal.
He allegedly paid park guides $50,000 (£32,000) to kill the lion, who was a hugely popular attraction at the Hwange National Park.
Cecil was lured from a national park and shot with a bow and arrow, before being tracked for 40 hours and then shot with a rifle, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The 13-year-old predator, who had a collar as he was being studied by Oxford University researchers, was then skinned and decapitated.
In the US, a petition urging the Obama administration to send the hunter to Zimbabwe to face justice has gathered nearly 180,000 signatures.
The White House said it would review it.
The killing has caused a global uproar, and the 55-year-old Palmer, who has reportedly received death threats, has been in hiding and temporarily closed his dental practice in suburban Minneapolis.
Protesters have gathered there, leaving stuffed animals and holding signs, including one that said: “Let the hunter be hunted”, as police stepped up patrols.
Cecil’s death was cited at the United Nations on Thursday as its General Assembly passed a resolution calling on all countries to step up efforts to tackle illicit wildlife poaching and trafficking.
Two Zimbabwean men, believed to have been hired by Mr Palmer, have appeared in a Zimbabwean court on charges of poaching. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
One of the men, Theo Bronkhorst, told The Daily Telegraph that the hunt on 1 July “went wrong from the beginning”, with Palmer’s luggage lost and the group getting a late start.
Bronkhorst described how the group came to see Cecil as he came into view behind a lioness.
“The client then fired using a bow and arrow, and it went away into the long grass. This was about 10pm,” he said.
The hunt resumed the next morning, he told the newspaper.
“We found it and it was wounded, and the client then shot it… and killed it,” Bronkhorst told paper, adding that only when they went over did they realise he had a collar.
Bronkhorst said he and his client were “devastated”. Bronkhorst took the collar off and put in a tree in a panic, then, he said, “we took the head and skin, as the client had paid for the trophy”.
Bronkhorst said he then went to the park to report what happened. -SkyNews