Cecil hunters in court tomorrow
The killing of world famous Zimbabwean lion, Cecil, may represent just the tip of the iceberg, the president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, Emmanuel Fundira has said.
Fundira told The Zimbabwean shortly after a press conference in Harare today that the killing of Cecil was a sophisticated operation conducted by a highly organised syndicate which may involve more people than those identified.
“It’s possible that some of the cases may go unnoticed and there could be collusion involving a number of individuals. The $55,000 could have found its way around a number of people,” Fundira said.
During the press conference Fundira revealed that the lion was shot at 10 pm at the beginning of this month by American Walter James Palmer from Minnesota.
“Cecil was killed using a bow hunt, a silent weapon revealing the intent to conceal what happened,” he said.
A joint press statement by SOAZ and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority issued earlier said that the professional hunter involved, Theo Bronkhurst and the owner of Antoinette Farm, Honest Trymore Ndlovu are being charged for illegally hunting the lion.
Fundira said the killing of Cecil represented a loss for the country both in heritage and financial terms.
“The proper market value for a lion like Cecil would be around $100,000”.
“Since this was not a legal hunt it means this money is not directly accruing to the people and government of Zimbabwe. The area where the lion was killed did not have a hunting quota for lions for 2015”.
The SOAZ president refuted what he called allegations in the international media that Cecil’s death illustrated poor wildlife conservation.
“We are very conscious of conservation and we use hunting as a conservation tool and we use quotas. The hunting methods we use involves the use of a fair chase which still provides the required experience for the tourist even when the animal might not get killed,” he said.
Cecil was part of an Oxford University research project and wore a GPS collar.
“We lost an icon. Cecil was very well known in the international community. The absence of Cecil is a disaster in terms of the disappointment it has caused,” Fundira said.
Ndlovu and Bronkhurst will appear in court tomorrow, Wednesday July 29. Bronkhorst’s licence has also been suspended with immediate effect. The lion trophy has been confiscated and will be used as an exhibit in court.
Bonkhorst has also been suspended from The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association.
Accrding to Fundira Bronkhorst’s son, Zane who was being sought by the police has been caught.
By The Zimbabwean
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