Cecil the lion killing: Hunter Walter Palmer wanted to kill a large elephant, claims guide

The Bronkhorst claimed he and the American dentist were 'devastated' when they saw Cecil's tracking collar and realised he was a protected animal

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The Independent Online

The American hunter who shot dead Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe also wanted to kill a large elephant, according to his guide.

Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has gone into hiding amid international outrage over the killing of Cecil, a well-known animal who had been studied by researchers for years.

The guide, The Bronkhorst, who is being prosecuted over the killing in Zimbabwe, told The Daily Telegraph that he and Mr Palmer had been “devastated” when they saw Cecil’s tracking collar and realised he was a protected animal.

However, they then skinned and beheaded him so Dr Palmer, who had paid £35,000 for a permit, could have a trophy of the kill.

Dr Palmer later asked “if we would find him an elephant [with one tusk] larger than 63 pounds, which is a very large elephant”, Mr Bronkhorst claimed.

“But I told him I would not be able to find one so big, so the client left the next day and went to Bulawayo for the night and then flew out midday the following day,” he added.

Mr Bronkhorst gave a detailed account of the hunt that ended in Cecil’s death.

“We set off quite late, with the sun down, and found the carcass of an elephant which we dragged and moved into the long grass and used for bait,” he said.

“We then established the ‘tree blind’ [a hide]. Once we were established, and it was quiet, we first saw a lioness go past. And then a huge male – Cecil – came into view behind her. He was a magnificent animal.

“The client then fired using a bow and arrow and it went away into the long grass. This was about 10pm.”

The hunting party then went home for the night and returning to look for Cecil the following morning.

“I was worried about the lion and what had happened,” said Mr Bronkhorst. “We got there about 9am, and we found it and it was wounded, and the client then shot it, with his bow and arrow, and killed it.”

They then realised that Cecil was wearing a collar. “I was devastated,” said Mr Bronkhorst. “I could not have seen the collar at night. We would never shoot a collared animal. I was devastated, and so was the client, we were both upset, and I panicked and took it off and put it in a tree.

“I should have taken it to [the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority], I admit that. So we did what had to be done. We took the head and skin, as the client had paid for the trophy.”