Zimbabwe wants US hunter extradited

  • 01/08/2015
Cecil, one of Zimbabwe's most famous lions, who was reportedly shot dead by US hunter Walter Palmer, of Minneapolis (AAP)
Cecil, one of Zimbabwe's most famous lions, who was reportedly shot dead by US hunter Walter Palmer, of Minneapolis (AAP)

Zimbabwe has called for the extradition of Walter Palmer, as news emerged that the trophy hunter from Minnesota had posed for a photograph next to the body of Cecil the lion.

Palmer paid US$55,000 for the hunt earlier this month in which he shot the lion with a powerful bow and arrow outside Hwange national park in the west of Zimbabwe.

Cecil, who had a distinctive black mane, was a popular tourist draw at the park and was also wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford university research project.

As worldwide outrage over the shooting continued on Friday, French actress and animal activist Brigitte Bardot described Palmer as a "serial killer" who deserved "exemplary punishment".

Palmer, who is also being investigated by the US government over Cecil's death, has apologised and said he was misled by professional guide Theo Bronkhorst.

"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for (Palmer's) extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be made accountable for his illegal actions," environment minister Oppah Muchinguri told reporters in Harare.

"It was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin."

Bronkhorst, who organised the expedition, was granted bail by the Hwange court on Wednesday after being charged with "failing to prevent an illegal hunt".

"We shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age," Bronkhorst said in telephone interview with AFP.

"I don't think that I've done anything wrong."

He revealed that Palmer had a photograph taken with the body of Cecil - as is normal for trophy hunters.

"That was taken with the client's camera, so I don't have access to it," Bronkhorst said.

"Both I and the client were extremely devastated that this thing had a collar on because at no time did we see a collar on this lion prior to shooting it.

"We had obtained the permit for bow hunting, we had obtained the permit for the lion from the council," Bronkhorst, who is due to stand trial on August 5, said.

"We had done everything above board.

"I don't foresee any jail sentence at all, I think it's been blown out of proportion by social media and I think it's been a deliberate ploy to ban all hunting."

Zimbabwe officials said Cecil's head and pelt had been confiscated.

Palmer's dental practice in Minnesota has been the scene of protests against Cecil's death, with crowds leaving stuffed toys of lions, tigers and monkeys outside the building.

A sign reading "Rot in Hell" was plastered on the office door.

One animal rights charity called for Palmer to be hanged.