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, and the process has already begun, a Cabinet minister said Friday.
“Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s environment, water and climate minister, told a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable.”
On Tuesday, American hunter Walter James 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 known as Cecil, a killing garnered worldwide condemnation.
“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.
“I have already consulted with the authorities within the police force who are responsible for arresting the criminal. We have certain processes we have to follow,” Muchinguri said at the offices of the national parks and wildlife authority. “Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started.”
The Cabinet minister said both Palmer and professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst violated the Parks and Wildlife Act, which controls the use of bow and arrow hunting. She said Palmer, who reportedly paid $50,000 to hunt the lion, also violated the act through financing an illegal hunt. The landowner violated the act because he “allowed a hunt to be conducted without a quota and necessary permit,” Muchinguri said.
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