People, Environment
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No Charges for Trophy Hunter Walter Palmer

No Charges for Trophy Hunter Walter PalmerNo Charges for Trophy Hunter Walter Palmer

Zimbabwe will not charge American dentist Walter Palmer for killing its most prized lion in July because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt, a Cabinet minister said on Monday, angering conservationists.

Palmer, a lifelong big-game hunter from Minnesota, touched off a global controversy when he killed Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, with a bow and arrow outside Hwange National Park in Western Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said on Monday that Palmer’s hunting papers were in order, and therefore he could not be charged, Reuters reported.

“We approached the police and then the prosecutor general and it turned out that Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said Palmer would be free to visit Zimbabwe as a tourist in future but not as a hunter. The implication was that Palmer would not be issued the permits a hunter needs.

The environment minister’s comments immediately drew the ire of the animal conservation group Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which maintained that Palmer had committed a crime and said it planned to pursue legal action against him in the United States.

Palmer could not be reached for comment on the environment minister’s statement to reporters.

“The fact is the law was broken,” said Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe task force, which first reported news of Cecil’s killing. “We are going to get our advocates in America to actually see what they can do to bring justice to him.”

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has said it was investigating the killing of the lion.

Palmer has previously said the hunt was legal and no one in the hunting party realized the targeted lion was Cecil, a well-known tourist attraction in the park.

Wildlife hunting, which earned $45 million last year, is an important source of money for Zimbabwe, which is still recovering from a catastrophic recession during 1999-2008.

Financialtribune.com