US launches probe into killing of Cecil the lion
American authorities have launched their own investigation into the killing of Zimbabwe’s worldfamous lion, Cecil.
CNN reports that the US’s Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a probe into the circumstances surrounding the killing of the lion by an American dentist, which has sparked worldwide outrage.
Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, killed Cecil while hunting in Zimbabwe at the beginning of last month. Authorities in the US are, however, battling to track him down.
Edward Grace, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s deputy assistant director for law enforcement, told CNN: “That investigation will take us wherever the facts lead. At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Palmer have been unsuccessful. We ask that Palmer or his representative contact us immediately.”
CNN reported that Palmer had gone underground as global outrage and condemnation continued to pour in over his killing of Cecil, who was a tourist attraction in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s conservation officials have also begun a process to have the dentist extradited to Harare to account for his actions.
Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, told CNN that he hoped US officials would cooperate with his country’s efforts to have Palmer extradited.
“He [Palmer] had a well-orchestrated agenda that would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the US.”
Two Zimbabweans have already appeared in court over the killing of the lion.
Two weeks ago, Muchinguri issued a press release condemning Palmer for killing the lion. The killing, which Palmer carried out with a bow and arrow, was illegal, he said, adding that the owner of the game farm on which Cecil was killed was not licensed to authorise the hunting of lions.
On Tuesday, Palmer released a statement, claiming that he was not aware of Cecil’s social standing. “I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
Cecil the lion