The Slatest

Update: Dentist Blames Local Guides for Zimbabwe Lion Scandal

Cecil the lion in a video uploaded by a wildlife guide named Bryan Orford.

Screen shot/YouTube

Update, July 28, 2015, 2:30 p.m.: Walter Palmer has put out a statement on the lion’s death.

That last sentence refers to the Oxford University research project that was tracking the dead lion, nicknamed “Cecil.”

Update, July 28, 2015: The U.K. Telegraph reports that the well-known Zimbabwe lion which died earlier in July under potentially unlawful circumstances was killed by a Minnesota dentist and prominent bow-and-arrow hunter named Walter Palmer. Palmer was assisted by a professional hunter named Theo Bronkhorst who reported the incident to authorities, the Telegraph writes, and Bronkhorst is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 6 alongside the owner of the land on which the lion (nicknamed “Cecil”) was killed after allegedly being lured out of the protected Hwange area.

Walter Palmer’s previous exploits in “trophy hunting,” the Telegraph notes, are well-documented; he’s shown on this blog posing with an elk, a bighorn sheep, and (somewhat disturbingly) a leopard that he killed, and was written about in the New York Times in 2009. The Times and the Telegraph both note that in 2008 Palmer pleaded guilty to charges that he made a false statement to federal wildlife officials about the details of a black bear hunt in Wisconsin. He was sentenced to a year’s probation.

The website for Palmer’s dental practice says he is a North Dakota native who enjoys participating in activities during which he can “stay active and observe and photograph wildlife.”

Original post, July 27, 2015: An upsetting story out of Zimbabwe: National Geographic and other outlets are reporting via a conservation activist group that a well-known, oft-photographed lion nicknamed Cecil has been killed—allegedly after being lured out of the protected Hwange wildlife park with bait.* From National Geographic:

According to Jonny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a charity which focuses on the conservation and preservation of wildlife in the southern African country, Cecil was shot with bow and arrow by a Spanish hunter in the Gwaai concession about a kilometer [1,100 yards] from the national park … Rodrigues says that Cecil did not die immediately;  it took two days to track the lion and finish him off with a rifle. The big cat was skinned and his head removed as a trophy.

The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association acknowledged in a statement on its Facebook page that one of the individuals involved in the killing had committed a “violation of the ethics of ZPHGA” and has been suspended from the group.

The Guardian reports that police in Zimbabwe are “seeking the lion’s remains among the country’s taxidermists.” The animal is thought to have been killed on July 6.

*Correction, July 27, 2015: This post originally misstated that National Geographic had reported that the lion may have been lured out of the park with bait. That allegation was specifically reported by other outlets.