One of the hunters arrested over the killing of Cecil the lion claims he 'did nothing wrong'

Killing caused international outrage

Rose Troup Buchanan
Saturday 01 August 2015 08:54 BST
Walt Palmer (left), from Minnesota, who killed Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion
Walt Palmer (left), from Minnesota, who killed Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion

One of the hunters arrested over the killing of the Cecil the lion has reportedly claimed he did not think he had done "anything wrong".

Theo Bronkhorst, a professional Zimbabwean hunter, told AFP on Friday he had done nothing wrong on the hunt for the famed lion and said that he was surprised to find the animal wearing a tracking collar when they found the body.

Mr Bronkhorst was employed by US dentist Walter Palmer, 55, in the hunt for the lion and has been arrested by Zimbabwean authorites for his role in the now infamous hunt. Another man, a farm owner, also faces charges from the government over his involvement in the hunt.

In a telephone interview with the international news agency, Mr Bronkhorst said: "I don't believe I failed in any duties at all, I was engaged by a client to do a hunt for him and we shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age.

"I don't think that I've done anything wrong," he added, clarifying remarks that were initially attributed to Mr Palmer.

Walter Palmer shot and killed 13-year-old African Cecil the lion on 1 July. The death of the famed lion, who was wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford University research project at the time of his death, was met with international condemnation.

Protesters gather outside Walter Palmer’s office (Getty)

The dentist has been forced to go into hiding as public anger continues, seemingly unabetted.

The Zimbabwean government confirmed on Friday that they intend to seek Mr Palmer's extradition, and acussed him of attempting to damage Zimbabwe's image.

Cecil the Lion, before he was killed by American hunter Walter Palmer (EPA) (Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority / HANDOUT /EPA)

Oppah Muchinguri, the environment, water and climate minister, told a press conference that it was "too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin".

"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable," they added.

Their response comes as an official White House petition for his extradition to Zimbabwe reached 160,000 signatures, forcing the US government to promise a response.

On Tuesday Mr Palmer issued a statement in which he claimed he believed that the hunt was legal.

Cecil was reportedly lured off the nature reserve - where he was protected - with bait before Mr Palmer, accompanied by Mr Bronkhorsts and a local farm owner, shot the lion with a crossbow. Some 40 hours afterwards the animal was killed with a gun.

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