Zimbabwe’s environment minister said that the US dentist who killed Cecil the Lion will not be prosecuted because he had permission to hunt and his “papers were in order”
The minister added that Walter Palmer, who sparked international fury after killing Cecil the Lion, would be allowed to return to Zimbabwe but as a tourist, not as a hunter.
Muchinguru-Kashiri, who had previously called on Palmer to be extradited and face prosecution, said the country will now review how it issues hunting licenses.
The news drew criticism from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which first reported news of Cecil’s killing. The group says it plans to pursue legal action against Palmer in the US.
“The fact is the law was broken. We are going to get our advocates in America to actually see what they can do to bring justice to him,” said Johnny Rodrigues, head of the task force.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service previously said it was investigating the killing of Cecil.
Palmer admitted to killing the rare black-maned lion outside Hwange National Park in Western Zimbabwe in July, but has repeatedly denied that he acted illegally. The 55-year-old dentist paid US$55,000 for the hunt, which resulted in the death of 13-year-old Cecil. The lion was shot with a bow and arrow and later finished off with a bullet.
The dentist returned to work at his Bloomington, Minnesota, practice in September, after going into hiding for two months amid international outrage. Palmer, who said that he and his family have been threatened since the story unfolded, was met by protesters when he arrived at his office.