Zimbabwe prosecutors have charged farmer Honest Ndlovu for allowing American dentist Walter James Palmer to illegally hunt Cecil the lion on his land.
Ndlovu’s property is next to the Hwange National Park, where Cecil the lion resided. Palmer killed Cecil with a bow and arrow on the property even though Ndlovu did not have “a quota for a lion hunt on his farm.”
If found guilty, Ndlovu faces a year in prison and a $400 fine.
He is the second person charged in Cecil’s death. Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst faces charges of “failure to prevent an illegal hunt.” He allegedly coaxed Cecil out of the national park to Ndlovu’s farm. He pleaded guilty and is currently out on bail.
“I do not feel I have done anything wrong,” exclaimed Bronkhorst. “This has been a very stressful time for me and my family. We have been pulled into something we are not happy with.”
Due to a dwindling lion population, the Zimbabwe government passed “a quota system capping the number of lions that can be killed per year.” Officials claim Ndlovu and Bronkhurst lacked permission to kill Cecil the lion.
“Only animals on quota are to be hunted,” stated the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. “In this case, 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.”
Zimbabwe Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri wants to extradite Palmer for killing the lion. However, the National Prosecuting Authority told the AP the department has not received “the required documentation for charging Palmer.”
Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said the department will “see how it plays out” and that the “professional hunters and land owners typically first face charges.”
Palmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune his guides told him they received permits to hunt lions:
In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. 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 relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.