Zimbabwe toughens hunting rules after iconic lion's killing

Cecil, one of Zimbabwe's most famous lions, who was reportedly shot dead by US hunter Walter Palmer.
Cecil, one of Zimbabwe's most famous lions, who was reportedly shot dead by US hunter Walter Palmer.EPA

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's wildlife authorities on Saturday announced restrictions on hunting around the country's biggest game reserve following the killing of a much-loved lion by a US dentist.

"Hunting of lions, leopards and elephant in areas outside of Hwange National Park has been suspended with immediate effect," Edson Chidziya, head of Zimbabwe's parks and wildlife authority Zimparks, said in a statement.

The parks body also suspended hunting with bows and arrows, except with permission from the authority's head.

"All such hunts will only be conducted if confirmed and authorised in writing by the director-general of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, and only if accompanied by parks staff," Chidziya said.

The clampdown follows an international furore over the killing of Cecil the lion, a favourite with international tourists, who was shot with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer outside Hwange park in early July.

The lion, which lived in the park, was lured outside its boundaries by bait.

 
 

After shooting the feline, Palmer, who was accompanied by local guide Theo Bronkhorst, then trailed the injured beast for 40 hours before finishing him off with a gun.

The death of the iconic lion, renowned for his distinctive black mane, sparked global outrage, with some animal rights activists calling for Palmer's death.

Bronkhorst is due to appear in court on Aug 5 on a charge of "failing to prevent an illegal hunt".

Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri has, meanwhile, appealled for the United States to extradite Palmer so he can be brought to justice.

Chidziya said the authority had joined forces with the police in a crackdown "to weed out any undesirable elements".

"The Authority will not hesitate to arrest, prosecute, and ban for life any persons including professional hunters, clients and land owners who are caught on the wrong side of the law," he said.