A leading New Zealand trophy hunter says if the man who killed Cecil the lion did so unethically or illegally, he should face the consequences of his actions.
US dentist Walter Palmer ignited a global firestorm of disgust after he paid a pair of local Zimbabwean hunters US$50,000 to help him kill a lion.
Cecil, a 13-year-old pride leader who was being tracked by the University of Oxford as part of a study on lion societies, was shot by Palmer twice – first with a crossbow, then 40 hours later with a rifle. He was then skinned and beheaded, and his tracking collar taken.
Palmer later issued a statement saying he regretted taking the life of this particular lion, and had relied on the "the expertise of my local professional guides".
According to reports, the guides strapped a dead animal to their vehicle and used it to lure Cecil off national park land, where the so-called hunt began.
New Zealand Trophy Hunting director Sheldon Lye says despite the outpouring of anger, "we don't have all the facts at this stage".
"Some people are incapable of undertaking hunting as we know it, yet they still want to experience the taking of a trophy – they want to end the life of something, and I think everyone does it for their own reasons," he said on the Paul Henry programme this morning.
"I'd like to think that 99 percent of people do it for better reasons than just pointing a gun in the direction to kill something."
He thinks much of the "storm of social media" may be coming from people who just don't like or understand hunting.
"Everyone has their own definition of hunting – some people hunt for meat, some people hunt for trophies, some people just enjoy the outdoors. I think people coming from larger cities and things like that have different views on hunting to people that live in a rural environment.
"Realistically, no matter what your views on hunting, it's going to continue and people need to be ethical and humane in the way they go about it."
Mr Lye's fear is that the furore over Cecil's killing reflects badly on all hunters, regardless of their practises and intentions.
"People doing something to an animal that's not humane, or portraying something that's not quite right, I don't think that's fair on the rest of the hunters, to be honest."
He says the real thrill of hunting is getting outdoors, not necessarily killing an animal.