A professional hunter who helped an American kill a popular lion named Cecil in an allegedly illegal hunt in Zimbabwe has said the case against him is “frivolous”.
Theo Bronkhorst appeared in a court in Hwange town, 435 miles south of Harare, where he faces charges of failing to prevent an unlawful hunt. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Givemore Muvhiringi, Mr Bronkhorst’s lawyer, asked for the trial to be postponed to 28 September so he can prepare the case. The prosecution did not object and magistrate Lindiwe Maphosa approved the postponement in a court session that lasted minutes.
The most controversial animal killings
The most controversial animal killings
1/6 Cincinnati Zoo worker shots and kills Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla
Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla was shot and killed by a Cincinnati Zoo worker after a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure and was grabbed and dragged by Harambe. The incident was recorded on video and received broad international coverage and commentary, including controversy over the choice to kill Harambe. A number of primatologists and conservationists wrote later that the zoo had no other choice under the circumstances, and that it highlighted the danger of zoo animals in close proximity to humans and the need for better standards of care
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
2/6 Walt Palmer (left), from Minnesota, who killed Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion (pictured here with another lion shot in Africa)
Walter James Palmer has been named by Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force as the shooter of Cecil, a 13-year-old prized lion. He is now wanted by Zimbabwe officials on poaching charges. The lion was protected and the subject of a decade long study by the Wildlife Unit of Oxford University in the UK. He was outfitted with a GPS collar and was killed in Hwange National Park. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said that two men were charged with poaching in connection to Mr Palmer
3/6 Kendall Jones hunting images
Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old Texas Tech university student, has provoked worldwide fury after posting pictures of herself smiling next to animals she hunted, including a lion, rhinoceros, antelope, leopard, elephant, zebra and hippopotamus
4/6 Rebecca Francis hunting images
Rebecca Francis, a huntress who has killed dozens of wild animals has been sent death wishes by furious social media users after a picture showing her lying down next to a dead giraffe was circulated. Rebecca Francis has a website and Facebook page dedicated to the animals she has killed in hunts across Africa and America. Francis, a prolific hunter who has also co-hosted the television show Eye of the Hunter, regularly posts pictures of herself posing next to dead bears, giraffes, buffaloes and zebras, among other animals. She uses a bow and arrow to kill her prey
5/6 The slaughter of Marius, an 18-month-old healthy giraffe in Copenhagen Zoo
Copenhagen Zoo made the controversial decision to euthanise a healthy giraffe named Marius, which was later dissected and fed to lions as visitors watched. The slaughter sparked a furious backlash from social media users and zoo staff have received death threats by phone and email. Soon after the incident, Copenhagen Zoo faced an international outcry once again after four healthy lions were put down
6/6 Swiss Dählhölzli zoo kills healthy brown bear cub
A Switzerland zoo faced heavy criticism from animal rights groups, after keepers put down a healthy brown bear cub to spare it from being bullied by its dominant male father. The 360 kg male bear Misha had already killed one of his 11-week old cubs in public and was bullying the second, staff at the zoo said, because he was jealous of the attention the cubs were receiving from their mother, Masha. Both adult brown bears had been donated to Bern’s Dählhölzli zoo in 2009. Campaigners condemned staff there for not separating the cubs, who are being referred to as Baby Bear Two and Baby Bear Three, and their mother from Misha after their birth in January
“I think it’s frivolous and I think it’s wrong,” Mr Bronkhorst told journalists when asked about the charges against him. He said he believed he had not done anything illegal.
Hunting is “an integral part of our country and it’s got to continue and if we do not use wildlife sustainably, there will be no wildlife”, he added.
Mr Bronkhorst assisted Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist and bow hunter who killed Cecil in early July. The case provoked international uproar and a Zimbabwean cabinet minister has said Mr Palmer should be extradited.
Police in southwest Florida said vandals spray-painted the words “lion killer” on the garage door of Mr Palmer’s $1.1m (£705,000) vacation home and left at least seven pickled pigs’ feet on the driveway.
Zimbabwe has also said a second American killed a lion in an illegal hunt in April. Dr Jan Seski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, said in a statement issued through his lawyer that his hunt was lawful and that he had the necessary permits required by Zimbabwe.