Cecil the lion? Zimbabwean minister's confusion on death of animal dominating social media and news website around the world

'What lion?' the minister reportedly told a bemused press conference

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The media storm surrounding the death of an African lion in Zimbabwe at the hands of a US dentist seems to have gone unnoticed by one government official.

Prisca Mupfumira, acting information minister, appeared to be behind the times when he was questioned on the latest developments following Cecil the lion’s killing by Walter Palmer.

“What lion?” he asked incredulous reporters when asked about the death of the animal, which has topped news websites around the world and dominated social media chatter for the past days.

Mr Palmer, 55, is believed to have shot the lion with a crossbow before eventually finishing off the famed Zimbabwean beast with a shotgun some 4-hours afterwards.

His actions have caused an international outcry. Hundreds picketed Mr Palmer’s practice and more than 160,000 signed a petition asking the White House to extradite him to Zimbabwe.

"Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country," said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare.

"What is so special about this one?"


Ms Kaseke’s confusion may be explained by the bigger problems the nation faces.

Zimbabwe’s economy, presided over by Robert Mugabe, continues to flounder. Exacerbated by government mismanagement, approximately 80 per cent of the population are unemployed and there are widespread reports of the lack of workers’ rights and protections.

Subsequently, Zimbabwean authorities have responded. On Friday officials called for Mr Palmer to return to the country so that he can face justice for his "illegal" actions.

Additional reporting by Reuters