Charges Dropped Against Hunter Who Helped Kill Cecil the Lion

Fredrick Ngugi November 14, 2016
The two wildlife hunters who killed Zimbabwean lion, Cecil. Photo Credit: Pet Forums.

A Zimbabwean court has dismissed charges against a local hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, for failing to stop the killing of  Zimbabwe’s most-prized lion, Cecil, by American dentist Walter Palmer. Speaking to Reuters, Bronkhorst’s lawyer, Lovemore Muvhiringi, said the court dismissed the case because Palmer had legal authority to hunt.

“The court granted us that prayer yesterday – that the charges be quashed. So I cannot imagine the state coming back again charging him with the same charge,” Muvhiringi explained.

Global Outcry

Palmer, who is a lifelong big-game hunter, sparked global outrage in July 2015 when he killed Cecil with an arrow outside Hwange National Park in Western Zimbabwe.

Animal rights organizations and conservationists around the world were outraged after the government of Zimbabwe announced that it would not be charging Palmer because he had a hunting permit.

Instead, the government decided to charge Bronkhorst, who assisted Palmer, with failure to prevent an unlawful hunt. The charge was immediately challenged by Bronkhorst’s lawyers, who argued that the accused did not commit any offense under the existing wildlife laws in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean government also issued a statement in October last year announcing that Palmer will only be allowed to visit the country as a tourist and not a hunter.

Wildlife hunting in Zimbabwe is a major income generating activity, with the government issuing hunting permits to treasure hunters, who end up killing some of the country’s remaining rare animal species.

Treasure Hunting and Illegal Poaching

For many years, Africa has been a major tourist destination attracting thousands of travelers from all corners of the world. However, the once-rich African wildlife is quickly diminishing due to increased trophy hunting and illegal poaching.

While conservationists around the world continue to fight against wildlife poaching, many African countries allow controlled hunting, whereby a professional hunter will pay a fee to kill specified wild animals.

In Zimbabwe, 75 percent of all wildlife deaths in many game parks are due to poaching and trophy hunting.

Every month, the country loses dozens of elephants to poachers, who poison them with cyanide for their expensive tusks.

Conservationists in Zimbabwe and other South African countries are now pushing for a total ban on wildlife hunting and the adoption of stringent laws like the ones that exist in Kenya.

Since 1977, the hunting of wildlife animals, especially elephants, has been considered a criminal offense that attracts a fine of up to $120,000 and a 15-year jail term.

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