KMSP) – Before Cecil the lion, there was this unnamed Wisconsin black bear. Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer let his guides know he wasn’t interested in any bear, but the largest they could find. He paid his guides more than $2,500, but was allegedly willing to pay so much more if they would lie about where the kill went down.
Professional hunter Theodore Bronkhorst, who helped in the killing of Cecil the lion, has been arrested by Zimbabwean authorities for allegedly smuggling antelopes.
A professional hunter in Zimbabwe who helped an American dentist kill a well-known lion named Cecil has now been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle sable antelopes into South Africa, Zimbabwean police said Tuesday.
Theo Bronkhorst, a Zimbabwean, is in police custody in the southern city of Bulawayo following his arrest a day earlier and will appear Wednesday in a court in Beitbridge, a town on the border with South Africa, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said.
Police and Zimbabwe National Parks officials also caught three South African men after the vehicles carrying the sables got stuck along the Limpopo River which marks Zimbabwe’s border with South Africa, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement.
“Bronkhorst will be charged for trying to move wild animals without a permit. He faces an additional charge of being an accomplice in a smuggling racket involving the sables,” Charamba told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The scheme involved trying to smuggle 29 sables worth $384,000 into South Africa, according to the parks authority.
The South Africans had no capture and translocation permits authorizing them to move the sables — seven males, 16 females and six calves — from a private sanctuary in Zimbabwe to a private conservancy in South Africa, the parks authority said.
Bronkhorst had been out on bail after being charged for the allegedly illegal hunt of Cecil by dentist James Walter in July.
He is due to go on trial in that case on Sept. 28. Authorities say Cecil was lured out of a national park with an animal carcass before he was shot.
The lion’s death sparked an international outcry, prompting some airlines to ban the transport of parts of lions and other animals killed by hunters.
New hunting controversy – two months after Cecil the lion was shot – which will see animals shot from specially erected platforms rekindles debate on big game hunting
Animal welfare groups in South Africa on Monday failed to prevent the opening of a week-long “driven hunt”, in which foreign hunters pay to shoot wildlife that is herded past them for easy dispatch.
More than 20 Belgian and Dutch hunters took part in the hunt on a farm near the town of Alldays, in the northern province of Limpopo.
Taking aim from purpose-built platforms overlooking a bush strip, hunters are able to shoot at hundreds of wild animals including baboons, warthogs and antelope as they pass.
Just two months after the global furore surrounding the slaughter of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, the hunt has rekindled controversy over the killing of wildlife for sport.
Photo: Brent Staplecamp
Such was the anger over the death of Cecil, who was being tracked by Oxford University as part of a research project, that the hunter – Walter Palmer, a dentist from Bloomington, Minnesota – was forced into hiding, emerging only this week to make a public statement.
The National Council of SPCAs, the South African animal welfare group, appealed for the driven hunt to be stopped.
Ainsley Hay, the group’s manager of wildlife protection, said that it was trying to obtain a warrant to prevent the hunt from the magistrates court in the town of Louis Trichardt.
“Our team is trying to get the warrant, but the hunters are there already and the shooting is about to start,” she said.
Later reports said 18 animals were killed on Monday.
She said an indigenous community in the area had claimed the land and was renting it out to “individuals” who were hosting the hunt as a way of earning income.
“They have built platforms that line the bush for the hunters to stand on and have employed locals to walk in a straight line beating metal drums to chase the animals into the slaughter strip.
“The hunters then take pot shots at the animals. The animals have no chance of evading the onslaught and the hunters have no way of ensuring a clean shot or a humane death.
“From past hunts like these we have seen that much of the kill can’t be eaten or used as trophies because the dead animals are so full of bullets.”
The hunt, at Braam Farm outside Alldays, is due to last for one week. Hundreds of animals could be killed each day.
Hermann Meyeridricks, president of the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa, said he did not have enough information about the hunt to comment.
“There is a media frenzy around hunting at present and we don’t know enough about this this kind of hunting, which has been going on for centuries in Europe.
“I have no mandate to investigate activities of citizens of this country.”
Palmer returned to his dental clinic in Bloomington, Minnesota, with a police escort at around 7 a.m. today.
A few protesters gathered outside his office and yelled “Extradite Palmer,” saying he should face punishment in Zimbabwe.
The dentist was named in late July as the hunter who killed Cecil, a lion that had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of research for Oxford University. Palmer has said he did not know he was killing a beloved animal when he followed his hunting party guide, and he believed he acted legally. The 13-year-old Cecil was the biggest dominant male black-maned lion in Hwange National Park in Hwange, Zimbabwe.
Today, Bloomington Police Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said police will keep a presence at Palmer’s office for as long as they are needed, mostly to manage blocking off the street for media. There were about 10 officers on the premises this morning. Hartley said he is not concerned for Palmer’s safety at this point, and Palmer has employed his own security.
Zimbabwean authorities have reportedly paused an effort to extradite Palmer due to possible fears that doing so would hurt Zimbabwe’s hunting business, the Associated Press reported. The Zimbabwean professional hunter who helped Palmer was charged with “failure to prevent an illegal hunt,” while the man whose property on which the killing took place faces a charge of allowing the hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority. They allegedly lured the lion out of the national park with an animal carcass.
Although one never saw the light of day again (former bakery-shop owner Hansen died in an Alaskan prison in 2014) and one may never see the inside of a courtroom, there are numerous similarities between serial killer/trophy hunter Robert Hansen and dentist/trophy hunter Walter Palmer:
- Both were family men, well-liked and successful in small business
- Both were avid sport hunters (though thus far Dr. Palmer‘s chosen “trophies” were taken only from the legal, non-human side of the imaginary great divide that separates worthy life forms from fair “game.”)
- Both “sportsmen” Walter Palmer and Robert Hansen enjoyed the challenge of bow hunting (presumably to prolong the agony for their prey)
- Both needed to constantly to refresh their “trophies” in an obsessive effort to boost their flagging self-esteems (after all, how much macho pride can be derived from being a baker…or a dentist?)
- Both serial killers objectified and thought nothing of the lives or the suffering of their many innocent victims, whom they failed to recognize as vastly superior in intrinsic value
- Conversely, perhaps they did recognize their value and envied them for it
- When accused, neither apologized to those whom their crimes affected, but instead cared only of how the accusations affected them
- Both were narcissistic psychopaths
- Both deserve whatever punishment they got or eventually get
Whether or not he broke enough hunting laws to warrant extradition back to Zimbabwe for a trial is all that seems to matter to Dr. Palmer. The fact that Cecil had a name and a radio tracking collar didn’t help the doctor’s legal case. But as with any psychopathic serial killer, his overwhelming sense of entitlement keeps him from seeing the fundamental wrong in his murderous ways.
“In his first interview since killing Cecil, the Eden Prairie big-game
hunter reaffirmed that he took the lion in Zimbabwe in a legal hunt. ”
Dentist who killed Cecil the lion set to return to work
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota dentist whose killing of Cecil the lion sparked a global backlash emerged for an interview in which he disputed some accounts of the hunt, expressed agitation at the animosity directed at those close to him and said he would be back at work within days.
Walter Palmer, who has spent more than a month out of sight after becoming the target of protests and threats, intends to return to his suburban Minneapolis dental practice Tuesday.
In an interview Sunday evening conducted jointly by The Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune that advisers said would be the only one granted, Palmer said again that he believes he acted legally and that he was stunned to find out his hunting party had killed one of Zimbabwe’s treasured animals.
“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn’t have taken it,” Palmer said. “Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Cecil was a fixture in the vast Hwange National Park and had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of Oxford University lion research. Palmer said he shot the big cat with the black mane using an arrow from his compound bow outside the park’s borders but it didn’t die immediately. He disputed conservationist accounts that the wounded lion wandered for 40 hours and was finished off with a gun, saying it was tracked down the next day and killed with an arrow.
An avid sportsman, Palmer shut off several lines of inquiry about the hunt, including how much he paid for it or others he has undertaken. No videotaping or photographing of the interview was allowed. During the 25-minute interview, Palmer gazed intensely at his questioners, often fiddling with his hands and turning occasionally to an adviser, Joe Friedberg, to field questions about the fallout and his legal situation.
Some high-level Zimbabwean officials have called for Palmer’s extradition, but no formal steps toward getting the dentist to return to Zimbabwe have been publicly disclosed. Friedberg, a Minneapolis attorney who said he is acting as an unpaid consultant to Palmer, said he has heard nothing from authorities about domestic or international investigations since early August.
Friedberg said he offered to have Palmer take questions from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorities on the condition the session be recorded. He said he never heard back.
“I’m not Walter’s lawyer in this situation because Walter doesn’t need a lawyer in this situation,” said Friedberg, who said he knew Palmer through previous matters. “If some governmental agency or investigative unit would make a claim that he violated some law then we’d talk about it.”
Ben Petok, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, declined comment about conversations with Friedberg and referred questions to Fish and Wildlife. An agency spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a call or an email Sunday evening.
After Palmer was named in late July as the hunter who killed Cecil, his Bloomington clinic and Eden Prairie home became protest sites, and a vacation property he owns in Florida was vandalized. Palmer has been vilified across social media, with some posts suggesting violence against him. He described himself as “heartbroken” for causing disruptions for staff at his clinic, which was shuttered for weeks until reopening in late August without him on the premises. And he said the ordeal has been especially hard on his wife and adult daughter, who both felt threatened.
“I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all,” Palmer said.
As for himself, he said he feels safe enough to return to work – “My staff and my patients support me and they want me back” – but declined to say where he’s spent the last six weeks or describe security steps he has taken.
“I’ve been out of the public eye. That doesn’t mean I’m in hiding,” Palmer said. “I’ve been among people, family and friends. Location is really not that important.”
Palmer, who has several big-game kills to his name, reportedly paid thousands of dollars for the guided hunt but wouldn’t talk money on Sunday.
Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter who helped Palmer, has been charged with “failure to prevent an illegal hunt.” Honest Ndlovu, whose property is near the park in western Zimbabwe, faces a charge of allowing the lion hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority.
Asked whether he would return to Zimbabwe for future hunts, Palmer said, “I don’t know about the future.” He estimated he had been there four times and said, “Zimbabwe has been a wonderful country for me to hunt in, and I have always followed the laws.”
In addition to the Cecil furor, Palmer pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside of the authorized hunting zone. He was given one year probation and fined nearly $3,000 as part of a plea agreement.
Cecil’s killing set off a fierce debate over trophy hunting in Africa. Zimbabwe tightened regulations for lion, elephant and leopard hunting after the incident, and three major U.S. airlines changed policies to ban shipment of the trophies.
Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed.
Cecil the Lion killer Walter Palmer gives first interview – and moans
about ‘humanity’ of his critics
As bowhunting season opens in U.S., animal rights groups are hopping mad
“Bowhunting season officially began in many states across the country
on Saturday, but animal rights groups like PETA have been fuming
against this type of hunting in particular.”
When I heard an American killed Cecil the lion, I felt sick to my stomach. I also felt embarrassed for our country. I know I am not alone in feeling concern, because people around the world reacted with horror to the needless killing of such an iconic African lion. A movement is building to protect rare wild animals, and I’m asking for your support to prevent future tragedies like what happened to Cecil. Please sign my petition telling Congress to pass the CECIL Act into law, which would place restrictions on trophy hunting of animals considered for endangered or threatened wildlife protections.
The Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act may be our best chance to protect rare wild animals from getting killed for trophies and shipped here to the United States. Without this law, we leave animals around the world vulnerable to trophy hunting.
Right now, the Endangered Species Act prevents the import and export of wildlife already listed as endangered. The CECIL ACT would extend those protections to animals proposed for addition to the list. The CECIL ACT would prohibit the import of such hunting trophies into our country.
I’m at Harvard Law School right now to learn the most effective ways to protect animals from abuse and neglect. I know it’s important to show Congress that the public demands better laws. We must work together to make this change right now. Otherwise, big money from wealthy trophy hunters will drown out the compassionate voices of regular Americans like us.
By signing my petition, we can send a loud message to Congress that Americans want to protect rare wildlife. Tell Congress to pass the CECIL Act into law to protect animals like Cecil from trophy hunting.