A Minnesota man is wanted in connection with the killing of a popular lion from a Zimbabwe national park. Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer, runs the Riverbluff Dental practice in Bloomington. Locals from the area have cited that the office has been closed since the news first broke out of the dentist pictures with Cecil the Lion.
The 55-year-old Palmer was identified by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe and police as the American facing poaching charges for the crossbow killing of Cecil, a well-known lion. Local authorities allege the lion was lured from a protected area and killed in early July. Zimbabwean conservationists said the American allegedly paid $50,000 for the trip. to track and kill the animal in a big game kill sport.
Two Zimbabwean men are already in custody over the killing. The men — a professional hunter (who is also in the picture with Palmer) and a farm owner — both are currently accused of helping Palmer hunt the 13-year-old national icon lion named Cecil.
The two Zimbabwean men appeared on Wednesday at the Hwange magistrate’s court, about 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the capital Harare.
‘Cecil’ was being studied by lion researchers and was fitted with a GPS collar and living on protected Nation Park grounds.
Palmer says he didn’t know the animal was part of a study until the hunt was over.
Palmer did released a statement Tuesday after Zimbabwean authorities identified him as the American involved in the July hunt. They said Palmer is being sought on poaching charges, but Palmer said he hasn’t heard from U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities but he will assist them with any inquiries.
“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,” said Palmer,
he also cliam’s that his guides had proper permits, and to his knowledge, everything was handled properly.
“I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” Palmer added
Officials say the details of ‘Cecil the Lion’ killing were brutal. The old lion who was a top sightseeing attraction at the park was lured from the safety of his home, shot– first with a bow and arrow– and then with a gun. He was later skinned and beheaded:
The African male pride leader was named Cecil after Cecil Rhodes, the British mining magnate, having first been spotted in 2008 at a place called White Man’s Watering Hole inside Zimbabwe’s famous Hwange National Park, and subsequently given a collar to track his movements for an Oxford University project.
After luring the lion away from its protected lands with meat trails the hunters waited till the lion exposed itself for the easy meal set as a trap. Walter Palmer reportedly then took the first shoot with an arrow penetrating the lion deeply wounding the animal.
The hunters and their guides, including Walter Palmer, returned to their camp to wait for first light and then followed the trail of blood on foot and in vehicles. Maimed, Cecil managed to stay alive for 40 hours after the Arrow launched by Palmer . Speeding through the bush, and sometimes stopping to rest in heavy undergrowth, Cecil kept ahead of the pursuing men for almost two days.
In the end though Cecil could not keep running or hiding forever. Exhausted and near death, Cecil was finally run to ground by the hunters miles from where he was first wounded.The men approached the tired animal and shot him dead with a gun. With Cecil cornered and dangerous, it’s also reported a professional hunter delivered the fatal bullet while Palmer watched.
Guides moved in, skinning the lion and hacking off his head as a trophy to be shipped home to hang on Palmers wall.
Walter Palmer, who has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin, According to U.S. court records, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin. Palmer had a permit to hunt but shot the animal outside the authorized zone in 2006, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere, according to court documents. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000. After posing for pictures with the magnificent animal, Palmer then reportedly offered the guides a bribe of $20,000 to sweep it under the rug.
Palmer is properly licensed and able to practice in his state, according to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. Board records show that Palmer was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint settled in 2006, with Palmer admitting no wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a former receptionist more than $127,000.
While Palmer says he “regrets” the killing of Cecil…..past photos seem to show a man who is very much delighted in big game trophy kills.
Additional Source) NBC Chicago News