While U.S. dentist Walter Palmer goes free, Theo Bronkhorst, the hunter who failed to stop him from killing Cecil the lion, says his life has been ruined.
The government of Zimbabwe stated earlier this week that there would be no charges laid against Walter Palmer for killing the prized black-maned Cecil the lion. However, Theo Bronkhorst, the local hunter who guided Palmer, reckons his life and business are now both in ruins.
— Gist Today (@GistToday) October 16, 2015
When the news broke in July this year of the killing of a prized, GPS-tagged lion in Zimbabwe by the American dentist, a global outrage was launched. Palmer closed his dentist practice and seemingly hid away from the spotlight as protests raged worldwide.
According to the Independent Online, it seems Palmer has got away with the killing of Zimbabwe’s most-loved lion with a bow and arrow because the court deemed he had obtained legal authority for the hunt.
However, on Thursday, a Zimbabwean court accused Bronkhorst, who aided Palmer in the hunt, of failing to stop the killing of the 13-year-old Cecil the lion in July this year in what was dubbed an illegal hunt.
As reported in the Guardian, after the killing of Cecil the lion, the national parks agency in Zimbabwe said Bronkhorst could no longer work as a professional hunter and canceled his license.
Outside the Hwange Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, Bronkhorst gave a tearful statement saying, “It’s destroyed us, it has destroyed the family, our business.”
When asked if he believed he was innocent, Bronkhorst said “Absolutely,” adding that he believes their permits were all in order, “and I still think we are gonna be vindicated.”
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 16, 2015
Givemore Muvhiringi, Bronkhorst’s lawyer, told Reuters that he feels the state decides whom it wants to prosecute. He said it didn’t make sense to not charge Palmer, but to continue pursuing Bronkhorst, and that he feels the charges should be dropped against his client.
“It’s a contradiction. Now they have gone on to say Palmer’s hunt was lawful after all, so it means that there was nothing that Bronkhorst was supposed to stop and failed to stop.”
The case against Bronkhorst was postponed for a third time until October 20, apparently to allow the court time to study submissions by both the prosecution and defense regarding Bronkhorst’s application to quash his indictment.
— People magazine (@people) September 17, 2015
According to the national parks agency, prosecutors are planning to present Cecil the lion’s head as evidence in court. Reportedly, the head was found by police in the city of Bulawayo, where it was being treated to preserve it prior to shipping it to Palmer in the U.S.
On the defense side of the case, Theo Bronkhorst denies the hunting party had used bait to lure Cecil the lion out of the protected reserve and onto private land before killing him, as previously stated.
He said this was “absolute nonsense,” and that the lion was already on an elephant carcass when they reached him.
“We didn’t even have to lure him, he was there. He was already on an elephant carcass that was lying there.”
Cecil the lion wore a GPS collar as part of a research project by scientists from Oxford University and according to Bronkhorst, collared lions are shot in Zimbabwe every year, saying in 2015 alone five such lions have been killed.
In the meantime Walter Palmer, the hunter who actually killed Cecil the lion, will continue to remain free and as reported in the Inquisitr, is even welcome to return to Zimbabwe.
[Photo: Cecil the lion courtesy of Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Vince O’Sullivan]