We have a huge jeer for a court in Zimbabwe that has thrown out charges against the professional hunter who helped Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer hunt and slaughter Cecil the lion in July of 2015.
Not only was Cecil supposed to be protected because he was part of an Oxford University study, no lions were supposed to be hunted in Zimbabwe in 2015 as a penalty for killing lions who were under six years of age the year before, according to Brent Stapelkamp, a conservationist who studied Cecil for over a decade.
National Geographic reported the court ruled that the charges against Theo Bronkhorst “were too vague to enable him to mount a proper defense.” He had been charged with failing to stop an illegal hunt.
This injustice is all the more reason we need to pass Cecil’s Law, drafted by Friends of Animals, in 2017. It would ban the importation, possession, sale and transportation of lions, elephants, leopards and black and white rhinos, and their body parts. It has been introduced in Connecticut and New York.
Tragically, Cecil was just one of hundreds of lions shot by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe over recent years, and until there is a federal ban in the United States, it is critical we pass Cecil’s Law. Stay tuned to see how you can help Friends of Animals move it forward.
Palmer reportedly paid $54,000 to bow-hunt Cecil, a beloved, black-maned lion living in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. On July 1, 2015, Palmer shot Cecil with a bow on a farm outside the park, where the lion occasionally went to explore. Palmer’s team, which included Bronkhorst, tracked Cecil for another 11 hours before killing him.
Bronkhorst’s role as a professional hunter included arranging the trip, getting permits and licenses, seeing to the needs of the client, and conducting the hunt. It is the professional hunter’s job to make sure the hunt is conducted legally.
Park officials initially said that Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, the owner of the farm where Cecil was shot, did not have a permit or quota to kill the lion. Ndlovu also faced charges of allowing an illegal hunt to occur on his property. He posted bail last August, but the status of his case remains unclear.
Palmer never ended up facing any charges. After Cecil was killed, Zimbabwe initially pressed to extradite him, calling him a “foreign poacher.” But within three months of the hunt, the government declined to file a formal extradition petition and said the documentation for the hunt was proper.