American Dentist Accused Of Luring, Killing, And Beheading Beloved Cecil the Lion In Zimbabwe

CLBO8g9WIAAoQftIn Zimbabwe, Cecil the lion was a believed to be a rare animal that was relatively safe from trophy hunters and poachers. After all, the 13-year-old lion wore a GPS collar as part of a research project with Oxford University and lived in a reserve funded by various governments and organizations to keep animals safe. Indeed, Cecil was something of a beloved celebrity. What park rangers did not count on was combination of corrupt tour operators, a foreign hunter, and an array of others seeking to lure the lion out of its protected area. Officials say that hunters paid $55,000 for the fun of shooting Cecil and then cutting off his head and skinning him. He was lured out of the park with bait so that he could be killed for sport. The culprit was allegedly a US dentist Walter Palmer from a small town near Minneapolis. Palmer loves to kill large animals and then pose with their bodies in postings on social media.


Cecil had six lioness mates and had sired approximately 24 cubs. Those cubs may now also be killed, which is common when other males move into another lion’s pride.

grid-cell-6053-1438100917-14grid-cell-6053-1438100916-11Palmer (left shown here with an earlier trophy) allegedly hired his band of hunters who helped lure Cecil a mile from the park. Palmer then was able to enjoy killing this magnificent animal with a bow and arrow. They then cut off the collar, another crime in the country.

Cecil was tracked for 40 hours by the team to corner it for Palmer to kill him. The first effort was botched and Cecil survived in pain until he could be tracked down the next day and killed.

The professional hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, with Bushman Safaris said he reported the “mistake” to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. However, few believe his account and he and the landowner bordering the national park have been charged. The government noted that “Both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt.”

For his part, Palmer issued a statement that “To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted. . . I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt . . . I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

Source: CNN

117 thoughts on “American Dentist Accused Of Luring, Killing, And Beheading Beloved Cecil the Lion In Zimbabwe”

  1. One of my husband’s friends worked for an exotic animal trainer. He had a rhino so sweet I was able to pet him. He’d trail after you, along the fence in his paddock, asking for pets and scratches. His best friend was a little red hen, who used to sleep with him until he rolled over one night and crushed her.

    He also had elephants that would gently eat out of my hands. When asked by a cameraman if the rhino did any tricks, he said, “Yes. He’s a rhino who doesn’t kill you. That’s his trick.”

    Petting a rhino and elephants is so much more of an amazing experience to me than seeing their mounted, dead heads on a wall would be. Where’s the magic in that?

  2. And may I point out that black maned lions are relatively rare. I believe they originated in the nearby Kalahari desert. But there are not a lot of them around.

    So I question why a local guide would see a black maned lion 1 mile away from the reserve, and not think of the country’s most famous, rare, black maned lion in the reserve.

    Ultimately, I suspect the guides will be left holding the bag on this, legally, but the dentist will have a major backlash in public opinion on his behavior. The alleged use of bait near a reserve where the lions are acclimated to tourist vehicles, and the armed backup shares some similarities to a canned hunt, which is condemned by the majority of hunters, and the public in general.

    My previous article link also includes a link to his 43 published trophy kills, which include a polar bear and an African elephant.

  3. SierraRose – fair enough. I anticipate the results of a full investigation, and hope Professor Turley shares the outcome.

    Here’s another article:

    http://www.startribune.com/zimbabwe-2-to-appear-in-court-for-killing-cecil-the-lion/318828251/

    “During a nighttime pursuit, the hunters tied a dead animal to their car to lure the lion out of the national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. Palmer shot the lion with a bow and arrow, injuring it. The wounded lion was found 40 hours later and shot dead with a gun, Rodrigues said in the statement.

    The lion was skinned and beheaded.

    The hunters tried to destroy the lion’s collar, fitted with a tracking device, but failed, the statement said. Zimbabwe authorities said in their statement that the “lion trophy has been confiscated.””

    You are right that these statements need to be proven, and there is a venue for that to take place.

    The article also mentions that Dr Palmer also was found guilty of fishing without a license, and he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit, as well as his trouble with poaching the bear.

    So no matter what, this guy is developing a history of not following the law.

    The article also discusses how the local guides are on the hook, as they are ultimately responsible for following the laws. My concern is when big money provides an incentive to locals for poaching, when the lion was worth far more in tourism for the economy than his death provided.

  4. Karen S. We do not know that the animal was baited and lured out of the park. There has been various articles speculating that this might have been what happened. There has been no evidence presented to substantiate the possibility and no witnesses claiming to have seen this happen.

  5. fool. Hunters and sportsmen have the right to bear arms….no more for the sportsman. And hunting can be outlawed by a mere treaty…..he should feel bad….risking the second amend like that. Why donlt they use tranquilizers …..pose ….release? So sad

  6. Rcocean:

    “Its funny that no one cares that 10,000,000 cows get “murdered” every year. I supposed the death of a million cows is a statistic, the death of one Lion a tragedy.”

    It is not unethical to be a carnivore or an omnivore. That is how we evolved as a species. It is true that some people can be healthy on a vegetarian diet, although it’s quite a bit more difficult to go vegan. A lot of people lose their hair and get quite unhealthy on vegan, because you really have a to know what you’re doing, and have access to a broad range of supplements.

    My own body reacts with inflammation if I eat too much grain and dairy. My asthma improved significantly when I removed grain, dairy, sugar and processed food, for the most part, from my diet. I indulge once in a while, but I cannot each much of these foods or else my body reacts strongly.

    Without grain, I would literally starve to death on a vegetarian, but especially a vegan, diet. As it is, the “baby” weight just melted off me with my modified diet, without even trying. I cannot get enough calories without eating eggs, meat, fish, etc. It’s really too bad that we’ve managed to pollute the entire oceans with mercury and other pollutants, because fish is the healthiest protein.

    So of course I support being an omnivore, because for people like me, that’s the healthiest diet. My dog is not evil because he is a carnivore, either. Foolish people try all the time to put dogs and cats on vegetarian diets, and ruin their pets’ health doing so.

    But I do demand the ethical treatment of livestock, as well as conserving our fisheries. That’s why I support hunting for food. If it’s a clean, professional shot, it’s a humane death. The animal lived wild and free, lived in its natural environment, and might not have even known what hit him. I also respect hunters who use every part of the animal they harvest that they can.

  7. Mr. Schulte,

    You clearly have never read the UN Charter.. I suggest you take a look at it and get informed on our civic duty to abide by international law by not waging wars of aggression. And not according to the Secretary General of the UN at the time. His name is Kofi Annan. I’m aware that ya’ll don’t respect the rule of law if particular people of color, ethnicity, class, etc. are involved. Otherwise the argument that it was not illegal is dubious at best.

  8. Now people are even upset at hunting the poor Polar Bears! Are they endangered? Not that I know of. I’m sure the Cute little Seals wouldn’t mind a few hunters bagging a few Polar bears.

  9. I started out disliking the hunter but people have become so hysterical and full of hate toward the guy, I’m having 2nd thoughts. Before people get too carried away, it was a 13 y/o Lion who probably would’ve died an agonizing death in a couple years. Not to mention, good ol’ Cecil has probably killed and eaten any number of innocent Zebras not mention lion cubs when he took over a Pride. Basically, the killer got killed.

    Further, Zimbabwe is a poor country and the large amount of tourist money from Hunting is probably needed. I’m sure the poor Africans who helped out on the Hunt were well compensated.

    The sentimentality toward certain animals – especially by Anglo-Americans – often verges on the absurd.

  10. Mr. Schulte,

    You don’t even call the War in Iraq illegal, let alone a major act of terrorism. How could any person with a pursuit of the truth and intellect trust you?

    1. chipkellyshouldgoogleleibniz – the War in Iraq was approved by the U.N. so how can it be illegal?

  11. Mr. Schulte

    You slap American before the name or story and your definition of terrorism changes…

  12. @ Karen

    The ground squirrels are horrible. They are much bigger than gophers. From nose to tail, most of them are about 15 to 18 inches. They dig big tunnels that even a human can twist an ankle falling into the soft terrain where they have been digging. For horses and cattle, they are a big danger with the animals breaking their legs while in pasture from the holes. It is worse that WWI and the bombing holes in the battlefields with all the pits and trenches. They carry all sorts of diseases, fleas and plague.

    Our outdoor cat, Mr. Oscar, is a big boy weighing in at about 18 pounds and does a pretty good job catching the squirrels. I get to pick up a dead squirrel [or what remains of it] from the workshop floor about 2 to 3 times a week. So….because Mr. Oscar is doing a good job, I don’t want to poison the squirrels and him as well. I thought about a grain baited live trap, but I don’t want to poison the birds either.

    So. It is the 22 shorts, pellet gun and lately the wrist rocket with ball bearings. I use that last one one the deer butts to keep them from eating my fruit trees and rose bushes. Zap!….. in the @ss with a garbanzo bean 😀

    Its funny that no one cares that 10,000,000 cows get “murdered” every year. I supposed the death of a million cows is a statistic, the death of one Lion a tragedy.

    Well, if there were 10,000,000 lions it wouldn’t be such a big deal if one or two were to be killed. Besides…..we eat cows. We don’t eat lions.

  13. Haha Mr. Schulte loves terrorism, as long as you put American before it! Are we kidding here? If an native Zimbabwean killed a beloved animal in an American community, you would call for immediate prosecution and deportation.

    1. chipkellyshouldgoogleleibniz – what does anything I have said support terrorism?

  14. Arvilla:

    Do you live in South East Alaska, which is more temperate? That’s a really beautiful area. You’re so lucky to live in a state where much of nature is still majestic and untamed. And to see the Northern Lights must be lovely.

    What a waste to trophy hunt polar bears. I just don’t get the mentality, and as you know, neither do a lot of subsistence hunters, or those who just supplement their freezers.

  15. “it is now Mr. Palmer who must be duly shunned from civil and economic society so that he loses all former ability to fund such woeful excursions

    Well said.
    Arvilla could lead the trophy hunt for the dentist, and have his whole body stuffed standing in the foyer of her ostentatious home!

    Unflagging purity against small sins that you have no way of committing is goodgroupthink.
    Keep it up.

  16. DBQ:

    LOL. I see you have a hate/hate relationship with rodents, too. I’ve finally been able to plant a few zucchini in a raised garden bed with wire mesh on the bottom, inside a fenced in area reinforced with hardware cloth, AND covered with a PVC frame wrapped in bird netting, all of which is inside my backyard patrolled by dogs during the day. We’ll see how long it takes for the rodent ravening hordes to figure out a way in and wreck it all. I give it a week. Probably until 5 minutes before my first zucchini ripens.

    I think I have beaten down the tame mouse population that actually crawls underneath my horse’s feeder, reaching their cute little paws up to beg as soon as they hear his goodie bucket. There are like 20 pairs of paws waving around now. I found another gopher snake the other day and let it go nearby. Here’s hoping the snake is clever enough to find them. I won’t use poison because it’s the ecological equivalent to land mines, and 76% of predators test positive for rodent poison. But I’m beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack with the gopher.

  17. Thank you Karen S…I simply could not agree any more with your compassion and reasoning. Where I live far to the south of Alaska, we know of a business owner big game hunter who relishes the taking or trophy of giant Polar Bears…and matter of fact, has one that’s been whole body stuffed standing in the foyer of his ostentatious home. And perhaps as no coincidence, no wonder there is a summer season series on TV right now with author James Patterson’s novel idea of wild animals finally achieving their just revenge by breaking out of bondage to purposefully attack humans.

    To intentionally plan for and commit this cruel act of malice, it is now Mr. Palmer who must be duly shunned from civil and economic society so that he loses all former ability to fund such woeful excursion when, in actuality, all he was …was akin to being like a hired assassin.

    Further, it’s egregiously appalling to know how these canned hunts are often carried out by fellow Americans who, for the most part, reveal themselves to possess no ethical conscience and are, in fact, representative of THE “worst” of human nature which, like common bullies, choose to prey on those known to be less willing or able to defend themselves.

    If nothing else, it is time to call out this false bravado for what it is…and endeavor to write law that will impose huge fines and/or impose prison time for all of these similarly brutal, yet painfully pathetic cowards.

    1. Arvilla – you have never lived until you have hunted the elusive jackalope (half-rabbit, half-antelope). In my lifetime I have only seen three mounted jackalopes.

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