US dentist who killed Cecil the lion can't be charged, says Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe will not charge an American dentist for killing its most prized lion in July because he had obtained legal authority to conduct the hunt, a cabinet minister said yesterday.
"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," environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, said, noting the American dentist could not be charged.
It was revealed in July that Cecil - the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe's national parks - was killed by the hunter who boasted about shooting a menagerie of animals with his bow and arrow.
Walter James Palmer, from Minnesota, is believed to have paid €47,000 to kill the much-loved lion with a bow and arrow.
In his first interview, with his local newspaper the 'Minneapolis Star Tribune', Mr Palmer said he had been stunned to discover he had taken the life of a treasured animal.
He said: "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. Nobody in our hunting party knew, before or after, the name of this lion."
Dr Palmer (55) declared himself "heartbroken" because he had been forced to abandon his practice in suburban Minneapolis for weeks amid an international outcry. He vowed to return to work this week.
The animal was wearing a radio collar because he was part of an academic study by Oxford University. Cecil was shot on July 1 in Hwange National Park. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University has tracked the Hwange lions since 1999 to measure the impact of sport hunting beyond the park on the lion population within the park, using radar and direct observation.