A Minnesota dentist has been identified as the individual who reportedly paid $55,000 to kill Cecil, the iconic lion who lived in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, reports the Telegraph.
The identity of Walter Palmer, an American hunter who was included in a 2009New York Times feature on big game hunting, was identified by two independent sources, writes the paper. The Telegraph had also seen a copy of Palmer’s hunting permit. The 13-year-old lion, beloved by many who came to explore the park, was allegedly shot by Palmer with a bow and arrow.
Palmer is thought to have lured Cecil about a mile out of the park on the night of July 1, and the injured lion was discovered roughly 40 hours later by Palmer’s hunting team who had him shot and killed. Cecil was ultimately beheaded and skinned. The hunters also removed his collar, which is against park’s rules.
— #VisitZimbabwe (@tourismzimbabwe) July 28, 2015
Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris, reported his “mistake” to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority the next day. Bronkhurst and the landowner, whose property borders the park, are under arrest and will appear in court August 6.
“Both the professional hunter and the land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt,” Zimbabwe National Parks said in a statement.
Bronkhorst was apparently unaware of the lion’s global fame.
“It was a magnificent, mature lion,” he told the Telegraph. “We did not know it was well-known lion. I had a license for my client to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow in the area where it was shot.”
The famed lion leaves behind a pride, including cubs, which are now in danger of being killed by other adult lions.
“It’s a tragedy that we are taking something that belongs to future generations and shooting these animals just because somebody is on an ego trip and they can afford it,” Johnny Rodrigues, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman,told Mashable. “How do you bait an animal out of its habitat to kill it and consider it legal?”