**UPDATE July 28 from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force concludes an American hunter from Minnesota, not Spanish hunter, killed Cecil.
“On or about the 6th July 2015, Walter James Palmer was taken to Hwange National Park by professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst. They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil. They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park. Mr Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn’t kill him. They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun. They found that he was fitted with a GPS collar because he was being studied by the Hwange Lion Research, funded by Oxford University so they tried to destroy the collar but failed because it was found.
Cecil was skinned and beheaded. We don’t know the whereabouts of the head. Walter Palmer apparently paid USD50 000 for the kill and we assume Theo Bronkhorst received this money. Cecil, who was known all over the world would have earned millions of dollars just from sightseeing. There was apparently no quota or licence for a lion to be killed in this area.
The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the heirarchy, Jericho will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females. This is standard procedure for lions.”
A Facebook group, with almost 10,000 likes, has now been set up called Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental.(Its website has been down most of the day.)
Then, Palmer issued this statement:
“In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. 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 favorite, 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. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.
Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
Cecil, arguably Zimbabwe’s best-known lion, largely due to his black mane, is dead. Killed by sport hunters just 1 kilometre outside Hwange, the country’s world-famous national park.
The Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority is investigating and sport hunters are feeling the heat. National Geographic reported that big cat may have been lured outside the protection of the park.
Jonny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told the magazine that Cecil did not die right away. First he was shot with a bow and arrow. Then, he was tracked for two days and shot with rifle, skinned and his head removed as a trophy.
The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association was forced to issue a statement yesterday.
ZPHGA would like to make the following statement, regarding the ongoing investigation of the hunt outside Hwange that resulted in the death of Cecil the Lion at this time.
Zimbabwe Parks Wildlife Management Authority, are currently still conducting an investigation on the legalities of the hunt that took place and for which they are the appropriate authority to do so. We therefore can not and will not comment on the legal aspect, whilst this investigation is ongoing. ZPHGA are working together with ZPWMA and Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ).
ZPHGA confirms the Professional Hunter in charge of the Safari is a member of ZPHGA. Therefore ZPHGA can make a ruling on the aspect of ethics and his membership at this time.
ZPHGA in the follow up of the investigation concludes that in regarding the responsibility of his membership, the PH was is in violation of the ethics of ZPHGA.
ZPHGA therefore with immediate effect, suspend his membership indefinitely.
The professional hunter and company he works for have been co-operative in the investigation.
ZPHGA re-iterates it will not tolerate any illegal hunting or any unethical practices by any of its members and their staff.
ZPHGA will await the completion of the current investigation by ZPWMA before commenting any further.
We ask all members of ZPHGA, as well as the general public, to please respect the ongoing investigation underway by the appropriate authorities ZPWMA.
Cecil was 13.
There has been on outpouring of grief on social media.
— Sharon Stead (@Rafiki234) July 12, 2015
— Orlando Beltrán Q. (@OrlandoBeltranQ) July 23, 2015
— UATH (@NoTrophyHunting) July 18, 2015