Zimbabwean charged over killing of Cecil the lion
By Philimon Bulawayo and Mike Saburi
HWANGE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday charged a professional hunter with failing to prevent an American from unlawfully killing 'Cecil', the southern African country's best-known lion, in a case that has triggered widespread revulsion at trophy hunting.
The American, Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 to kill the lion, has left Zimbabwe. He says he did kill the animal but believed the hunt was legal and that the necessary permits had been issued.
Local hunter Theo Bronkhorst appeared in a courthouse in Hwange, 800 km (500 miles) west of Harare, and was charged with "failing to supervise, control and take reasonable steps to prevent an unlawful hunt".
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and was set free after posting $1,000 bail and depositing his passport with the court. He will return to court on Aug. 5 for trial.
Game park owner Honest Ndlovu, who is also accused of assisting Palmer, was not charged on Wednesday and parks officials said he would first testify for the state and be charged later.
While Bronkhorst appeared in court in Zimbabwe, Palmer, who is accused of killing Cecil with a bow and arrow, was being pilloried on the Internet, with many people wishing him dead.
"This is disgusting. I hope you get thrown in a cage with hungry lions," Julie Lu wrote on the Facebook page of his dental practice.
Palmer said on Tuesday he had hired professional guides who secured hunting permits and deeply regretted taking the lion. He added that he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the United States and would assist in any inquiries. Continued...