After investigating the matter, officials in Zimbabwe have decided not to press charges against Walter Palmer, the U.S. dentist and sportsman who hunted and killed Cecil the lion, reports the BBC.
“We approached the police and then the Prosecutor General, and it turned out that [Walter] Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order,” Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri said.
Palmer had insisted all along that he did his due diligence to ensure that his lion hunt was legal.
“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,” Palmer said in a statement in late July. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”
It appears that Palmer was duped and fleeced by the guide who took him on the hunt, and lured the big cat from Hwange National Park so Palmer could shoot it with a compound bow.
Palmer’s Zimbabwean guide, identified as Theo Bronkhurst, is now on trial facing the charge of “failing to prevent an illegal hunt.” Reports indicate that Palmer paid upwards of $50,000 for the hunt.
Word of Cecil’s death spread like wildfire on social media and quickly Palmer was dubbed public enemy number one to such an extent that folks began to threaten not only Palmer but his wife and his daughter as well.
“They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again… I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all,” Palmer said of the threats directed at his wife and daughter.
In the end, one can certainly argue that for whatever injustice was done to the lion, Palmer has certainly paid the price for it, and then some.
On a personal note, I know this is a hot-button topic that elicits strong reactions from folks all across the gun community. Some believe Palmer should lose his hunting license, and that trophy hunting is morally wrong. Others believe that Palmer is being unfairly criticized for doing what people have done for centuries: kill animals.
Regardless of how you feel on the issue, I suggest you listen to this Radio Lab episode, titled “The Rhino Hunter,” for additional perspective on trophy hunting in Africa. It just may change the way you feel about it.