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Monday, October 24, 2016

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) — The American dentist who killed Cecil the lion was a “foreign poacher” who paid for an illegal hunt and he should be extradited to Zimbabwe to face justice, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said on Friday.

In Harare’s first official comments since Cecil’s killing grabbed world headlines this week, Muchinguri said the Prosecutor General had already started the process to have 55-year-old Walter Palmer extradited from the United States.

Muchinguri, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party, described Cecil — a black-maned lion well-known to foreign tourists in the Hwange National Park — as an “iconic attraction.”

“The illegal killing was deliberate,” she told a news conference. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal actions.”

Palmer has admitted killing the 13-year-old predator, who was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study, but said in a statement he had hired professional guides and believed all the necessary hunting permits were in order.

He has not been sighted since his identity was revealed this week by Zimbabwean conservationists.

Muchinguri also said Palmer’s use of a bow and arrow to kill the lion, who is said to have been lured out of the national park with bait before being shot, was in contravention of Zimbabwean hunting regulations.

Palmer, a life-long big game hunter, returned to the United States before the authorities were aware of the controversy.

“It was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher because he had already absconded to his country of origin,” Muchinguri said.

Social media in the United States and Europe have exploded in outrage and vitriol against Palmer, and the White House said on Thursday it would review a public petition of more than 100,000 signatures to have him extradited.

Under a 1998 treaty between the two countries — which have not enjoyed cordial relations in the latter stages of Mugabe’s 36 years in charge — a person can be extradited if they are accused of an offense that carries more than a year in prison.

In Zimbabwe, the illegal killing of a lion is punishable by a mandatory fine of $20,000 and up to 10 years in prison.


Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said no American had been extradited to Zimbabwe since the treaty was signed, adding that Harare would face legal and political hurdles with Palmer.

First, it has to apply to U.S. courts and satisfy them Palmer committed an offense and that he would be jailed for more than a year if convicted. Courts in Zimbabwe consider a fine first for lion poachers before imposing a jail term, he said.

“They (U.S. courts) may actually doubt the competence of the judiciary here to try him in an objective manner particularly given these prejudicial pronouncements that the politicians are already making,” said Muchadehama.

As with many African countries, Zimbabwe issues annual hunting permits for big game such as elephant, buffalo and lion, arguing that the revenues generated can be used for wider wildlife conservation.

Last year, the southern African nation which is still recovering from billion-percent hyperinflation a decade ago, earned $45 million from hunting, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority head Edison Chadziya told reporters.

Zimbabwe had an estimated 2,000 lions on private and government-owned reserves and issued hunting quotas of 50-70 lions every year, he added.

However, permitted trophy hunting is far from universal in Africa, and the government in neighboring Botswana — where it is illegal — said the Cecil case showed the risks.

“It is our stern belief that safari hunting of threatened species such as lions has the potential to undermine our regional anti-poaching efforts as it encourages illegal trade which in turn promotes poaching,” it said in a statement.

The shooting is also being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if it was part of a conspiracy to violate U.S. laws against illegal wildlife trading, a source close to the case told Reuters on Thursday.

Despite the global media coverage of Cecil’s killing, the big cat’s untimely demise has gone largely unnoticed in Zimbabwe, where average annual income is just over $1,000 and unemployment is higher than 80 percent.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ed Cropley and Giles Elgood)

Photo: Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. (REUTERS/Eric Miller)

  • Joseph Kelsall

    It is all to do with the twisted psyche of some Americans! To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill ” It cannot be called hunting in the true sense of the word, without some degree of terminological inexactitude”. The ‘hunters’ are always surrounded with a posse of ‘trackers’ in case they screw up.

    I detect a personality disorder, to cover up a personal perceived weakness such as homosexuality. Just like Bill O’Reilly when he ‘visited’ Iraq, dressed up as Rambo, and of course we know O’Reilly’s predatory record on his female staff.

    As an example, I cite this moral coward ‘hunting’ with a Gatling gun! Need I say more?

    • Daniel Jones

      “Pull the trigger that makes you man;
      Zero safari–the hunt is canned…

      the hunt is canned!”

      There’s a reason I called out for flooding the jerk’s e-mail with a whole lot of copies of *Countdown to Extinction* by Megadeth. I believe mp3 monkey has it.

  • 13factfinder

    This Dr. is disgusting …. paying 50,000.00 to hunt and kill one of God’s creatures when he could have gone to an abortion clinic and got the same thrill for free. Are they selling any of Cecil’s body parts yet?

    • Joseph Kelsall

      Ridiculous analogy.

      • 13factfinder

        It kind of flushes out the “animal” behavior in us doesn’t it? You just add a drop of liberal politics and you have yourself more “left coast” hypocrisy! Trump has figured out the “politically correct” BS and is working to kill it. From the killing of Cecil to taking our guns; the party is over and the Left is losing! Worried about all the killing with guns unless you are talking about abortion??? This hypocrisy is so OVER.

        • charleo1

          Talk about hypocrisy. How’d you like the Conservative’s itty bitty government all up in your private life, every time your wife gets a positive on a pregnancy test at the OBGYN? Here, just fill out these forms. Your fetus’ lawyer, and State Social Services will be contacting you in the near future on the proper diet, and required medical regimen as proscribed by the State. Which will be relayed to you in writing on the first mandatory visitation, and orientation. Notice: Termination of this duly registered pregnancy is prohibited by law. Thereby the Mother of said unborn, hereon referred to as the ‘donor parent,’ her medical professional, and biological Father of unborn, if available. Will be held primarily responsible for the health and well being of the unborn, until live birth is accomplished. Any conviction by the State by any named responsible parties of, intentional termination of a registered pregnancy, for any reason, medical or otherwise, or travel to another State, or outside the U.S. jurisdiction for such purpose is prohibited by U.S. Law. (Put the chapter, and verse of your hoped for anti-abortion law here.) Any willful neglect of aforementioned medical treatments, nutritions, check ups, etc. for the benefit of the life of the unborn, shall, upon conviction in a court of law, be considered a violation of the unborn’s Constitutional, and Civil Rights. And be subject to a penalty of not more than 20 years in a Federal, or State Correctional Facility, a fine amounting to not more than, $50,000 or both. Now there’s your nameless, faceless government bureaucrat, coming not only between a woman, and her doctor, but her and her husband, her and her clergy, her and her family, and her, and herself.

          • dtgraham

            And after live birth is accomplished, we don’t care any more.

            They’ve denied the Medicaid expansion in red states, and in 2013 the GOP tried to get a bill passed in Congress that would gut 70% of children’s health insurance funding and would probably have ended CHIP altogether. I never followed up on it but I can only imagine that it went nowhere.

            In 2011 they wanted to cut the women and infant children– WIC–program by 10%.

            They’re the forced-birther party. That’s about it. They don’t even care during the pregnancy. They just pretend to as a wedge issue.

          • charleo1

            You’re absolutely right. It’s not about valuing life, or family values, or any other of that other crap they spew on about. It is about gaining control over the rules that govern the personal lives of other people, and the power that comes along with it.
            A quick look at cults, and theocracies, and how they seek to control every aspect of people’s lives. Will tell us all we need to know about the motivations of the ban abortion zealots. To demand control of woman’s body, and then force her to term. Only to cut healthcare, housing, and food for her child. Is much like the guys that wanted to control the planes in the air for their own purposes, but couldn’t care less about learning to land them. It’s a thing done with malicious intent.

          • dtgraham

            Good analogy. Never thought about it that way charleo. They’re the twin tower pilots of women’s health.

  • Dominick Vila

    Extradition? That’s not going to happen. Only the USA has the right, and power, to demand and get extradition, as was the case with the FIFA officials that engaged in questionable activities in foreign countries.

    • dtgraham

      Don’t extraditions happen all the time? Extradition treaties are common among all nations. You can still request the expulsion or lawful return of a fugitive from the territory of some other state even in the absence of an extradition treaty. The U.S. certainly doesn’t have to comply and may refuse the request on any number of grounds such as the likely degraded condition of Zimbabwean prisons for example. I think there are an awful lot of people around the world though who hope that America does comply. I’m one of them.

    • The lucky one

      Of course Zimbabwe has the right to demand extradition but they do lack the power to get it.

  • dtgraham

    Thirty years ago there were about 200,000 lions in Africa. Today that number is roughly 25,000. There are 645 lions left in west and central Africa. There are no lions in 25 African countries and they’re barely surviving in ten others. They are very endangered and a message needs to be sent about this “sport.” Zimbabwe is just doing this for tourism no doubt, but still. I hope America can help send that message.

  • The lucky one

    Absolutely extradite this disgusting piece of crap. I won’t hold my breath.