Monday, 12 October 2015

Cecil the lion: Zimbabwe will not charge US dentist over killing

Zimbabwean environment minister says Walter Palmer’s big-game hunting trip was legal and he could not be charged

Reuters in Harare

Monday 12 October 2015 14.53 BSTLast modified on Monday 12 October 201517.33 BST

Zimbabwe will not charge American dentist Walter Palmer for killing a prized lion in July because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt, a cabinet minister has said.

“We approached the police and then the prosecutor general, and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” the environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, told reporters, adding that the American could not be charged. 

Palmer, from Minnesota, has always maintained that he believes he acted legally. Last month he told the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was stunned to find out his hunting party had killed one of Zimbabwe’s treasured animals.

“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn’t have taken it,” Palmer said. “Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”

Palmer, who has several big-game kills to his name, reportedly paid thousands of dollars for the guided hunt.

Muchinguri Kashiri said Palmer was free to visit Zimbabwe as a tourist but not as a hunter. The implication was he would not be issued the permits a hunter needs.

Two more people still face charges related to Cecil’s killing. Both allegedly were involved in using bait to lure Cecil out of his habitat in Hwange National Park so he could be killed.

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