A Minnesota dentist, Dr. Walter J. Palmer, shot a beloved lion in Zimbabwe this month with a crossbow after he and a couple of hired guides lured the animal from his protected refuge. The lion was injured from the arrow shot, tracked, then killed with a firearm and beheaded. The lion’s name was “Cecil”, and he was wearing a tracking collar, that the “hunters” allegedly tried to disable after the fact. According to the Minneapolis Star/Tribune,
[“During a nighttime pursuit, the hunters tied a dead animal to their car to lure the lion out of the national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. Palmer shot the lion with a bow and arrow, injuring it. The wounded lion was found 40 hours later and shot dead with a gun, Rodrigues said. The lion was skinned and beheaded.”]
“Cecil” had been a major tourist draw at Zambabwe’s Hwange National Park. Palmer apparently paid $55,000 to participate in the hunt. Reports indicate that the two guides who assisted in the slaughter detained and released on $1,000 bail each, and authorities want to speak with Palmer who has since said he would cooperate with them. The men arrested have been identified as Theo Bronchorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu and they are facing 10 years in prison. Palmer is no stranger to violating gaming laws in the United States; he pled to violating federal charges stemming from his lies concerning hunting black bear in Wisconsin. He also had a fishing violation in Minnesota.
Palmer has displayed pictures that depict many kills on his webpage that include a leopard, rhinoceros and elk, and he was profiled in the New York Times in 2009 for killing a “trophy elk” that belonged to a subspecies of the “Roosevelt elk” , the “tule”, that was once considered a vanishing species.
African lion populations have fallen almost 60% over the last three decades according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. By 1:20 p.m. this afternoon, over 459,981 people had signed an online petition “demanding justice” for Cecil.