Zimbabwe calls for extradition of Cecil the lion's killer

Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:19pm EDT
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By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - The American dentist who killed Cecil the lion was a "foreign poacher" who paid for an illegal hunt and he should be extradited to Zimbabwe to face justice, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said on Friday.

In Harare's first official comments since Cecil's killing grabbed world headlines this week, Muchinguri said the Prosecutor General had started the process to have 55-year-old Walter Palmer extradited from the United States.

Muchinguri, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, described Cecil, a rare black-maned lion well-known to tourists in the Hwange National Park, as an "iconic attraction".

"The illegal killing was deliberate," she said at a news conference. "We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal actions."

Palmer has admitted killing the 13-year-old lion, who was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study.

He said in a statement issued by a publicist early this week that he had hired professional guides and believed the necessary hunting permits were in order.

The Minnesota dentist and trophy hunter has not been seen since his identity was revealed this week by Zimbabwean conservationists.

On Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is investigating the killing of the lion, said it had been contacted by a representative for Palmer on Thursday.   Continued...

Hayley Hoppe (R) sits with her daughters Piper, 10, (L) and Paisley, 8, (C), in front of the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Miller