Dentist Pays $50,000 to Kill Cecil the African Lion, Sparks Internet Outrage
More sad news on the wildlife front. Yesterday, a Northern White Rhino in a Czech zoo died, bringing the grand total of Northern White Rhinos on Earth to four (and they are all in captivity). Now, it has come to light that Walter Palmer, a man from a small town near Minneapolis killed Cecil the Lion, one of Africa’s most famous lions and the star attraction at the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe, according to The Guardian.
— Stephen Mangan (@StephenMangan) July 28, 2015
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Palmer is the culprit and he was abetted by two Zimbabwean men, professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and farm owner Honest Ndlovu,who will appear in court for allegedly helping lure the lion outside of its protected area to kill it, reports the AP. They are charged with poaching offenses for not having the required permits and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, reports the BBC. Palmer could also face poaching charges.
The lion was wearing a GPS collar as part of an ongoing research project, so authorities were able to track his last movements and his final location. “The hunters tried to destroy the collar, but failed,” authorities told The Guardian. The lion was found skinned and headless on the outskirts of the park.
Palmer, an avid hunter, and the two Zimbabweans claim they didn’t know the lion they killed was protected. “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,” Palmer told the AP, maintaining that to his knowledge, everything about the hunt had been legal. “I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” Palmer told CNN, saying he would cooperate with authorities’ inquiries.
Palmer closed his dental practice as its Facebook page and website were flooded with angry comments and threats. Some users then turned to Yelp with one calling him an “American psycho incarnate.” Palmer had a similar incident in 2006 when he shot a black bear “outside an authorized zone” and then lied about where he shot and killed the animal, according to CNN. He was given a one-year probation and fined $3,000.
The death of Cecil the Lion comes as countries in Africa are working to crack down on illegal poaching, which is second only to the drug trade in its scope. The World Wildlife Fund has enlisted Jared Leto in its efforts and solutions run the gamut from 3D printed rhino horns to drones.