UPDATED: The alleged killer of Cecil the Lion is a US Dentist, Walter Palmer, from Minnesota. Two independent sources gave the identity of the hunter and showed the relevant hunting permit as evidence.
Park guides found the decapitated body of Cecil, Zimbabwe's famous 13-year-old lion recently. Africa's most famous lion had been lured off the reserve, killed, skinned and decapitated and his body left for predators.
The lion was found due to a GPS collar, fitted by an Oxford University research team, which showed his last movements. Cecil was famous due to his relaxed attitude towards humans and cameras and was a popular attraction at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
He had a distinctive black mane and was well known all over Africa. Known as Africa's most famous lion, he has been photographed and captured on video by many visitors to the country.
He was often seen close to the main roads in the park, making him a dream model for safari photographers. It is believed Cecil was lured away from his protected habitat, where it would be illegal to shoot him, probably using a freshly killed animal as bait, a common technique among hunters.
He is then believed by local authorities to have been killed with a bow and arrow by a Spanish hunter. Authorities believe that he was followed for a further two days before dying, after which he was decapitated and skinned and his carcass left behind.
OUTRAGEOUS! Zimbabwean authorities hunt Spaniard accused of killing Cecil the lion http://t.co/aYiRbbL2K4 pic.twitter.com/f22i4KUwjH — GrrlScientist (@GrrlScientist) July 26, 2015Time reports that the Spanish hunter bribed a guide by paying around $55,000 for the chance to kill Africa's most famous lion. Two people have been arrested in connection with the killing, but authorities are still searching for the Spanish hunter.
According to the Guardian, a Spanish conservation group, Chelui4lions, has asked Cites de España, the group which overseas the importation of endangered species, to stop the lion's head from entering Spain as a trophy.
Hunter who killed Cecil the lion 'paid gamekeepers… https://t.co/ZEfpe6fu3p #hunter #killed #cecil #lion #zimbabwean pic.twitter.com/rUjLGg01OW — GlobalParadigmShift (@OccupyNA) July 27, 2015A spokesman for the group, Luis Muñoz said, "From 2007 to 2012 Spain was the country that imported the most lion trophies from South Africa. During this period it imported 450 heads, compared to 100 in Germany. Europe needs to ban these lion hunting trophies altogether."
"What hunter, what sort of demented person, would want to kill a magnificent adult lion, known to and photographed by all the park's visitors?"What makes matters worse is that according to Johnny Rodriguez, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the death of the lion is a tragedy not only because he was Africa's most famous lion and a symbol of Zimbabwe.
"We're ashamed of the fact that in Spain there are rich madmen who pay for the pleasure of killing wild animals such as lions."
"His identity is being protected but I believe it is just a matter of time before his name becomes known. I am sure it can't remain hidden for long."
"Now we have to give up for dead his six cubs, as a new male won't allow them to live so as to encourage Cecil's three females to mate."According to authorities, Cecil was kicked out of his pride some years ago and wandered alone until he met his mate, Jericho. He then created a pride of six lionesses and several young cubs, who all still live in the park.
In related news, the Inquisitr recently reported the story of a toddler, filmed by his mother on a visit to a zoo in Cincinnati, laughing as he "played" with a young lioness through the glass. [Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]