Zimbabwe intends to seek the extradition of an American dentist who killed a lion that was lured out of a national park and shot with a bow and a gun.
In the Zimbabwean government’s first official comment on the killing of Cecil the lion, the environment, water and climate minister lashed out at Walter James Palmer, accusing him even of trying to hurt Zimbabwe’s image.
“Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Oppah Muchinguri told a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable.”
On Tuesday, Palmer issued a statement saying he relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal. Two Zimbabweans – a professional hunter and a farm owner – have been arrested in the killing of the lion, an act which has garnered worldwide condemnation.
Palmer is believed to have shot the lion with a bow on July 1 outside Hwange National Park, after it was lured onto private land with a carcass of an animal laid out on a car, Zimbabwean conservationists have said. Some 40 hours later, the wounded cat was tracked down and Palmer allegedly killed it with a gun, they said.
“There has been an outcry,” Muchinguri said. “Almost 500,000 people are calling for his extradition and we need this support. We want him tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws.”
She did not explain the 500,000 but there are online petitions demanding Palmer’s extradition.