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Lion killer convicted poaching in his native US

Wanted man ... Walter Palmer with a leaopard he killed in Zimbabwe in 2010

28/07/2015 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter I Agencies
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THE US big game hunter who has admitted killing the human-friendly Hwange National Park lion named ‘Cecil’ was convicted for poaching by the federal court in Wisconsin in 2008.

Walter J. Palmer, 55, a dentist in Minnesota issued a statement Tuesday admitting he killed the lion with a bow and arrow, but said he regrets what he did and believed that his guides were leading him on a legal hunt.

This was after a London newspaper exposed him as the hunter who took down Cecil the lion, paying more than $54,000 for the opportunity.

In Harare, police spokeswoman, Charity Charamba, said “we are looking for Palmer.”

“I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits,” Palmer said in his statement read.

“To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.

“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.”

He added: “Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

And as coverage of the killing spread across the world, commenters took to the Facebook page of Palmer’s River Bluff Dental with a vengeance.

“You utter utter scum,” one of many hostile comments read. “You should be in jail, and you should hang your head in shame.”

Targeted ... Walter Palmer's dental practice

Chelsea Hassler, outreach director with the Twin Cities-based Animal Rights Coalition, said her group and “many outraged citizens” intend to protest outside Palmer’s office Wednesday afternoon.

A local professional hunter and a farm owner have already been arrested on poaching charges and are expected in court Wednesday.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association issued a statement Tuesday explaining how the lion was killed.

The joint statement said Theo Bronkhorst, a professional guide with Bushman Safaris, is believed to have lured the lion to Honest Trymore Ndlovu’s farm, where it was killed by an American tourist in Zimbabwe’s western Hwange region.


Its carcass was discovered days later by trackers, the statement said.

During a night-time pursuit, the hunters tied a dead animal to their car to lure the lion out of a national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. Palmer shot it with a bow and arrow, injuring the animal.

The wounded lion was found 40 hours later and shot dead with a gun, Rodrigues said in the statement.

The lion was skinned and beheaded. The hunters tried to destroy the lion’s collar, fitted with a tracking device, but failed, the statement said.

In 2008, Palmer pleaded guilty in federal court in Wisconsin to misleading a federal agent in connection with the hunting of a black bear. Two years earlier, Palmer killed a bear near Phillips, in Price County. That location was 40 miles outside where he held a permit to hunt bear.

Palmer and others transported the bear carcass to a registration station inside the allowed hunting zone. At the station, he falsely certified that the bear had been killed in the legal zone. He then brought the bear to Minnesota.

Twice, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent interviewed Palmer, who said he believed he killed the bear legally.

Facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison, Palmer was sentenced to one year’s probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Trouble also has found Palmer away from his hunting expeditions.

In 2009, he and the Minnesota Board of Dentistry agreed to a settlement involving allegations that he sexually harassed a receptionist. She alleged that Palmer made comments about her breasts, buttocks and genitalia.

Without admitting guilt, Palmer settled and paid $127,500 to the woman, who also was his patient. The settlement included references to his bear-hunting conviction and “substandard record keeping.”

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