A big game hunting ban that was put in place after American dentist Walter Palmer illegally hunted and killed famed Cecil the Lion has now been lifted, less than two weeks after it was initially imposed, officials in Zimbabwe have said.
The hunting ban, which prohibited the hunting and killing of lions, leopards, and elephants in and around Hwange National Park — where Cecil the lion lived before he was killed — has now been lifted, according to a statement from members of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association, but the ban is still in effect in a select few places around the country, the leaked statement says.
“We are pleased to inform you that, following some useful discussions between operators and the relevant Zimbabwean authorities, the suspension has now been uplifted throughout the country.”
The statement continues to say that the hunting ban is still in place for Antoinette farm, where Cecil was killed, and on another farm where a second lion was illegally hunted, as well as in two other places. Even more significant is the fact that the hunting ban remains for “collared iconic animals” such as Cecil, who was wearing a collar when he was killed. According to conservationists, Cecil was the fourth or fifth collard lion to be hunted and killed in Hwange National Park this year.
An unnamed conservationist spoke of the hunting ban continuing to be imposed on the private farms, praising authorities for their swift action.
“[The authorities] have reacted very quickly, very strongly, and they’ve put a total ban on any hunting in Antoinette and Farm 32 – the two areas where the lions were shot. I think anyone who crosses the line now will be nailed.”
Caroline Washaya-Moyo, a parks spokeswoman, echoed the conservationist’s sentiments for those who would attempt to oppose this ban and continue hunting illegally in areas where the ban remains, saying that their hunting licenses will be revoked and they will be barred from obtaining hunting permits for life.
“They tarnish the image of the hunting industry, the authority and the country at large. Their actions border on economic sabotage.”
Though Zimbabwe has lifted the hunting ban, for the most part, a new ban has been placed on so-called “ration-hunting,” the practice of hunting game to feed park rangers, government workers, and to provide meat for national events. Up until now, this practice has been allowed in Zimbabwe’s state-owned parks, despite trophy hunting being banned in such places.
[Image Credit: The Telegraph]