Zimbabwe Hunting Guide Charged In Death Of Cecil The Lion

A Zimbabwean hunting guide has been charged in connection with the death of Cecil the lion, after he was allegedly paid by an American dentist to hunt the beloved animal, sparking international outrage.

Theo Bronkhorst, a local hunter, was charged in connection with the lion’s death in a Hwange courtroom located roughly 500 miles west of the capital of Harare, according to the New York Daily News. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to prevent an illegal hunt, which carries a potential sentence of a decade in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Game park operator Honest Ndlovu, on whose land Cecil the lion was killed, has not been charged, but was released after appearing in court. Bronkhorst, meanwhile, was also released after paying a $1,000 bail, though his hunting license has been revoked. He will appear again before the court on August 5, according to the BBC, while Ndlovu is also scheduled to appear at a later date.

The charges stem from the two men’s alleged connection to the death of Cecil, a famed lion who inhabited a wildlife reserve in Zimbabwe. American dentist Walter Palmer has been accused of killing the lion, as the Inquisitr previously reported, during a hunt that stretched over several days. Cecil was reportedly wounded with a bow and arrow by Palmer, before being tracked for over 40 hours, and then finished off with a gun.

Cecil is believed to have been killed on July 1, though the lion’s body was not found immediately. Following its death, the hunters decapitated Cecil, removing the skin from the carcass and leaving the rest of the body to rot. Palmer is believed to have paid over $50,000 for the hunt, during which the lion was lured off protected land. He has claimed that he did not know of Cecil’s identity, believing that the hunt was entirely legal.

“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he noted on Tuesday. “I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

Palmer has reportedly returned to the United States and entered hiding, following protests outside his dental practice and widespread condemnation of his actions. He was not named as a suspect in court Wednesday, and though he claims to have not been contacted by authorities regarding the death of Cecil the lion, he reportedly intends to “assist them in any inquiries they may have.”

[Image: YouTube / Bryan Orford via the New York Daily News]