’s environment minister called Friday for the extradition of the American dentist who killed Cecil, a 13-year-old lion.
The minister, Oppah Muchinguri, said the dentist, Dr. Walter J. Palmer, a hunter from Minnesota
, had broken Zimbabwe’s laws. At a news conference in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital
, Ms. Muchinguri said that she understood the process was underway to have Dr. Palmer extradited from the United States
and that the “foreign poacher” needed to be held accountable for his actions.
“Unfortunately, it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher, as he had already absconded to his country of origin,” she was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe.”Ms. Muchinguri said that Dr. Palmer’s use of a crossbow and arrow to shoot the lion before eventually killing him with a gun had breached Zimbabwe’s hunting rules. The lion is thought to have been lured out of his protected habitat in Hwange National Park
, and his head was taken as a trophy for the hunter.
The killing of Cecil, a tourist attraction who was also the subject of research at the University of Oxford
, has spurred global outrage, and Dr. Palmer, 55, has gone into hiding.
Dr. Palmer has said he depended on his guides to ensure that the hunt complied with the law. Two Zimbabweans have been arrested in relation to the killing.
The United States has a treaty with Zimbabwe under which someone charged with an offense punishable by a sentence of at least a year in both countries can be extradited. On Friday, a Justice Department spokesman said the agency did not comment on extradition requests from foreign governments.
Meanwhile, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the circumstances surrounding Cecil’s killing. “Late yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement was contacted by a representative of Dr. Walter Palmer,” an agency spokeswoman, Vanessa Kauffman, said Friday. “The service’s investigation is ongoing.”
The agency’s law enforcement unit has coordinated with the Justice Department to investigate previous cases involving American hunters who illegally killed animals in other countries.
Citing what it characterized as alarming trends in illicit hunting and poaching, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday that supporters said would start a global effort to address the poaching and trafficking of wildlife.