Tag Archives: Zimbabwe

Cecil’s slaughter will have major impact on region

When Cecil the lion’s carcass was finally found after he was lured out of a Zimbabwe wildlife reserve to be killed by an American hunter, it was a headless, skinless skeleton the vultures had been picking at for about a week.

Conservationists decided the most natural thing was to leave the bones where they were for hyenas to finish off, said Brent Stapelkamp, a lion researcher and part of a team that had tracked and studied Cecil for nine years.

Stapelkamp darted Cecil and put his last GPS collar on in October. He was probably the last person to get up close before Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer used a bow and a gun to kill the now-famous lion with the bushy black mane, its head and skin eventually cut off as trophies. Stapelkamp had first alerted authorities that something might be wrong after Cecil’s GPS collar stopped sending a signal.

The killing of the big cat in early July has unleashed global outrage, sending Palmer into hiding back home in suburban Minneapolis, leading to the arrest of the local hunter he employed, and prompting Zimbabwe’s environment minister to say the southern African country would seek Palmer’s extradition to face charges.

Stapelkamp shares the anger, not just because of the demise of Cecil. Also because, he said, it’s not the first time a lion has been killed illegally around Hwange National Park in northwestern Zimbabwe, a reserve known for its rich wildlife. About a dozen lions in the region were killed illegally in recent years, Stapelkamp said, and no one was caught.

“I think this was just the final straw,” Stapelkamp told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the Hwange reserve. “Everyone locally just thought, no ways, we’re not letting anyone get away with this anymore.”

Cecil had an intriguing story, making him a celebrity in Hwange. He arrived as a kind of lion refugee, alone and wandering after being displaced from another territory. Cecil befriended another male lion, Jericho, and together they grew and watched over two prides, one with three lionesses and seven cubs and another with three lionesses.

Cecil’s killing will have an impact on the area, explained Stapelkamp, a field researcher for an Oxford University study on lions.

Jericho may not be able to hold their territory alone and could be chased away by rival lions. Unprotected, the lionesses and cubs would then be under threat and also move away or be killed. Safari operators who invested millions of dollars in the area would lose one of their biggest attractions for tourists.

“They’re burning fire breaks. They’re grading roads. They’re pumping water,” Stapelkamp said. “They’re spending a lot of money in the management of lions and then someone just draws it across the railway lines having not paid a penny in its management and shoots it and runs away with its skin. It’s unacceptable.”

Stapelkamp, unsure of the details of Cecil’s killing, described the usual tactics of hunters to draw an animal onto private land and out of the park where it is protected. The two areas are separated by a railway line. Hunters shoot a zebra or giraffe and hang it on a tree; the main bait. They then drag the intestines of that animal, “something that really smells,” Stapelkamp said, up and down the park boundary behind a vehicle. Sometimes they’ll even play the sounds of a dying buffalo over a loudspeaker to attract a lion.

The lion “comes across that scent trail and it leads him straight to this bait,” Stapelkamp said. “It rushes in for a free meal and they’re waiting … and they kill him like that.”

Even on private land, this hunt was still illegal, Stapelkamp said, because no hunting quotas for lions were issued in the region this year. Legal hunts do happen, he said, but only after authorities consult with ecologists and decide that it won’t adversely affect the area.

This didn’t happen with Cecil, Stapelkamp said, and he doesn’t believe Palmer’s story that he trusted his professional guide to ensure a legal hunt.

“He’s a well-educated man, he’s got a lot of resources,” Stapelkamp said. “You could do your homework. Due diligence. You would know that you’re hunting in a controversial area. You’ve got a GPS you could have in your pocket and you have a look at the map, and you say, ‘listen, friend, I think we’re in the wrong area.’ There’s no excuse.”

Palmer came “with the intention of getting the biggest lion that he could and getting out. And he got caught,” Stapelkamp said.

Zimbabwe officials say another American illegally killed a lion near the same park where Cecil was slaughtered

A second American killed a lion in an illegal hunt with a bow and arrow in Zimbabwe several months ago, according to local authorities. The revelation comes amid an international outcry over a U.S. hunter accused of illegally killing a well-known lion named Cecil in early July.

The second American was involved in an illegal hunt of a lion in April around Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, said the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in a statement. A Zimbabwean landowner named Headman Sibanda was arrested in the case and is assisting police with their investigation, the authority said.

Zimbabwean authorities earlier said they are seeking the extradition of Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer, alleging he did not have authorization to kill the lion named Cecil a month ago. The lion was lured out of Hwange Park and first wounded with a bow and arrow before being tracked down and shot 40 hours later, according to conservationists in Zimbabwe.

Palmer has said he relied on his professional guides to ensure the hunt was legal.Two Zimbabwean citizens were arrested and face charges in the case in which Palmer has been implicated.

But experts say it would be hard for Palmer to avoid extradition due to a treated entered by the U.S. and Zimbabwe in 1997. It calls for persons of interest to be extradited between the two countries in cases that include a conspiracy or attempt to commit a crime, aiding and abetting a crime, or being an accessory.

On Saturday, Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority said it had suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the Hwange area. Bow and arrow hunts were also suspended and can only be approved by the head of the director of the wildlife authority.

As Zimbabwe seeks to extradite American who slaughtered lion, donations pour in for conservation group

EDITOR’S NOTE: Corrects money raised to U.S. dollars

A pair of U.S. philanthropists with a passion for wild cats pledged Friday to match new donations to Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Unit — the researchers who were tracking the movements of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

Tom Kaplan, a natural resource investor whose net worth was put by Forbes magazine at $1 billion, and his wife, Daphne, will match donations made after 3 p.m. London time Friday up to a total value of $100,000. The Kaplans hope to help the Oxford researchers raise half a million pounds to further their work.

More than the equivalent of half a million in U.S. dollars has already been raised from all over the world — $150,000 of it in the 24 hours after Jimmy Kimmel made a tearful plea for funding to assist WildCRU’s conservation efforts.

David McDonald, the director and founder of WildCRU, thanked Kimmel with a message on the organization’s website that said: “Jimmy Kimmel implored his millions of listeners in the USA to make donations to support our work on lions, and conservation more widely. We are so grateful for this and for the up-welling of support for our work worldwide.”

Kaplan said he was spurred into action to maintain the conservation momentum that Cecil’s death sparked.

“We have to seize this moment where we can all make a difference,” Tom Kaplan said in a statement, adding that if the “death of Cecil can lead to the saving of many more lions, then some good can come from tragedy.”

The pledge comes hours after Zimbabwe started extradition proceedings for the American dentist who paid two locals $50,000 to help him lure the lion out of a national park under cover of night and shot him with a crossbow. The wounded lion roamed for 40 hours in pain before the three men found, shot, skinned and decapitated the beloved animal.

Walter Palmer “had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the USA,” Oppah Muchinguri, the African nation’s environment minister, told CNN.

But the Bloomington, Minnesota, dentist apparently has gone in to hiding. He briefly hired a public relations agency, but the firm quickly dropped him as a client. His business and suburban Minneapolis McMansion have been shuttered and all of his social media profiles have been erased.

A representative of Palmer’s contacted the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement late yesterday, but Palmer has yet to surface.

Cecil was not the first large mammal doomed to an illegal death by “trophy hunter” Palmer. The Bloomington, Minnesota, resident was convicted of poaching a black bear he killed in Wisconsin several years ago.

Records also show that Palmer had other impulse-control issues. His dental practice’s insurance company paid $127,000 to settle a sexual harassment complaint filed against him by a former receptionist there.

Palmer, who donated $5,000 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, was also ordered to take management and ethics classes.

The slaughter of Cecil, a protected and internationally beloved resident of Hwange National Park, has touched off international outrage and sparked a worldwide conversation as to how to best safeguard the dwindling number of big cats. It has also harmed the local economy. Zimbabwe officials estimated that Cecil brought the area about $100,000 in tourism.

Oxford’s WildCRU, one of the world’s top university research groups, tracks the movements of hundreds of lions and runs an anti-poaching team. It also works with local farmers to help them live alongside the lions. It had followed Cecil’s movements in minute detail since 2008.

To make a donation to WildCRU from North America, click here.

Walter Palmer wanted by U.S. and Zimbabwe officials for slaughter of Cecil the lion

Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service want to talk to Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who became a target of worldwide outrage after illegally killing Cecil, a beloved and protected lion, in Zimbabwe.

But since issuing an apology to his patients on Tuesday for having to cancel their appointments, he seems to have disappeared, the Washington Post reports.

According to the newspaper, investigators have come up empty handed after visiting Palmer’s house, stopping by his dental office in Bloomington, a Minneapolis suburb, calling his telephone numbers and filling his inbox with e-mails.

But unlike Cecile, whom Palmer and two local guides lured out of the safety of a national park by tying a dead animal to their vehicle, Palmer can’t be lured out of hiding.

“I’m sure he knows” the government is looking for him, Ed Grace, chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told WaPo. “We’ve made repeated attempts to try and get in contact with him.”

Grace said that Palmer has had plenty of time since to contact U.S. authorities and that he should know how to reach the agency, “because we convicted him for lying about a bear kill” in Wisconsin in 2009.

Laury Parramore of the Fish and Wildlife Service, declined to say what the agency might do once it has more information. But she said the agency was “deeply concerned.”

In terms of sport hunting abroad, the United States’ primary authority is over importation of the carcasses, which hunters refer to by the euphemism “trophies.” Foreign animals can be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Palmer could have violated the U.S. Lacey Act, a law tied to a United Nations treaty for the protection of animals. The act governs the actions of Americans who violate the laws of foreign governments.

Grace said the State Department also is looking into the matter in Africa. And, in addition to conducting its own probe, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is ready to assist Zimbabwe in its investigation.

Zimbabwe officials also seek to question Palmer. Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said Palmer will face charges of poaching.

The two Zimbabwean men who assisted Palmer in committing the atrocity, for which Palmer paid over $50,000, have already been arrested. The men are a local landowner, who permitted Palmer to lure the animal to his land, and a professional hunter. Neither man had a hunting permit, making the kill illegal.

The Associated Press reported the following things to know about U.S. regulations surrounding the case:


Parramore said the agency is “currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”

The agency could potentially find a way to block importation of the animal’s body, or body parts, if Zimbabwean authorities approved it for export.

“It is up to all of us — not just the people of Africa — to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come,” she said in a statement.

Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, said she believes the Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. attorney’s office should investigate whether any U.S. laws were violated related to conspiracy, bribery of foreign officials, and illegal hunting.


The agency proposed last year to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a move that could limit the importation of African lion carcasses into the United States from some countries. But that rule has not yet been made final.

Listing a foreign species under the act allows the United States to strengthen enforcement and monitoring of imports and international trade, the agency says. A listing can also prohibit certain commercial activity with regard to body parts.

The agency said when it proposed the listing last fall that 70 percent of the African lion population existed in only 10 major strongholds. Threats facing the lions include hunting, loss of habitat and loss of prey, officials said.

Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of The Humane Society of the United States, said that while much of the vitriol has been aimed at Palmer he hopes the incident adds to pressure on U.S. government officials to finalize the proposed rule.

“It does seem to be a potential breakout moment of public understanding of the ugly underside of the international trophy hunting business,” Pacelle said. “There is a much larger problem than Walter Palmer.”


The agency’s proposal would allow permits for the importation of sport-hunted lion trophies only if the lions come from countries with a “scientifically sound management plan for African lions.”

Long before Cecil’s killing, Zimbabwe was heavily criticized for failing to properly manage its wildlife populations. The Fish and Wildlife Service last year announced an indefinite suspension on the import of sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe.

The agency cited shortcomings in Zimbabwe’s plans for overseeing its elephant herds and said it was “unable to find that the killing of an elephant whose trophy is intended for import would enhance the survival of the species.”

Legal sport hunting, when properly regulated, is considered to be a sound element of wildlife management. Revenues from hunting can be funneled into conservation programs and finance incentives for local communities to guard protected species. But, in reality, only a tiny fraction of the revenues actually winds up in the coffers of such programs.

Read also about Walter Palmer’s history of sexual harassment.

Revelations surface about the dentist who slaughtered Cecil the lion, including sexual harassment case

Walker J. Palmer, currently the most despised person on the Internet, has a history of thwarting inconvenient laws to satisfy his cravings.

Several years before gaining infamy for conniving to slaughter a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, the Minnesota dentist settled a sexual harassment claim for $127,500.

Walker J. Palmer, currently the most despised person on the Internet, has a history of thwarting inconvenient laws to satisfy his cravings.

Several years before gaining infamy for conniving to slaughter a beloved lion in Zimbabwe, the Minnesota dentist settled a sexual harassment claim for $127,500.

The suit was brought by a woman who worked as a receptionist for his dental practice from 1999 to 2005. In her complaint, the woman alleged she “was subjected to ongoing and unwelcome sexual harassment by (Palmer) including, but not limited to, verbal comments and physical conduct involving her breasts, buttocks, and genitalia.”

The woman complained that she was fired for reporting Palmer’s conduct to her supervisor at the clinic. In addition to the fine, he was also ordered by the court to complete a jurisprudence exam and ethics course.

The case was settled in 2009, six years before Palmer, a lifelong big game hunter, paid two African guides $50,000 to help him lure a legally protected and iconic lion out of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and slaughtering it on July 1. Cecile the lion, who had a distinctive black mane, was loved by locals and wildlife lovers throughout the world, who traveled to Zimbabwe just to see and photograph the magnificent animal.

Palmer shot the 13-year-old lion with a crossbow, then tracked the suffering animal for 40 hours before shooting, skinning and decapitating it.

Palmer, who is being sought by Zimbabwe authorities, is apparently in hiding. His dental clinic in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis, is shuttered. All of his social media accounts have been removed.

Prior to disappearing, Palmer said he didn’t know the lion was protected; but in skinning and decapitating the animal, he would have seen the tracking collar Cecil wore in connection with a wildlife study conducted by Oxford University. There is evidence that Cecil’s killers tried to destroy the GPS device.

Cecil’s killing was not Palmer’s first run-in with the law over his passion for gunning down large animals. Court documents show Palmer was fined $3,000 and given a year’s probation after pleading guilty for the illegal slaughter of a black bear in Wisconsin in 2006. He alsowas found guilty of making false statement to wildlife officials in that case.

In 2003, Palmer was also convicted in Minnesota for fishing without a license.

The killing of Cecile comes at a time when conservationists are alarmed by the rapid decline of African lions, elephants and rhinos. Over the past 30 years, Africa’s lion populations have fallen almost 60 percent, leaving only about 32,000 of them in the wild, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said. In the 1960s, there were over 200,000.

“As troubling as it is, the rarer these trophy hunted animals become, the more hunters are willing to pay to kill them, said Jeff Flocken, the fund’s North American regional director. An American recently paid $350,000 to kill a critically endangered black rhino on Namibia.

Activists, celebrities and a large swath of people who love animals and deplore the senseless killing of sentient beings have besieged Palmer with threats and angry Internet postings. A makeshift shrine for Cecil was created by animal lovers at the entryway into his dental practice. His patients have been notified that he can no longer serve them.

The outrage over Palmer’s sadistic behavior and the rapid disappearance of wildlife from the planet brought forth vicious comments on social media and television.

Actress Mia Farrow posted a tweet containing Palmer’s business address in Minneapolis but removed it a short time later, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail. Instead she showed a picture of his dental practice in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.

PETA tweeted that Palmer should be executed his actions.

“If, as reported, this dentist & guides lured #CeciltheLion out of the park with food so as to shoot him on private property because shooting #CeciltheLion in the park would have been illegal, he needs to be extradited, charged, &, preferably, hanged,” PETA tweeted.

“Hunting is a coward’s pastime,” PETA wrote. “To get a thrill at the cost of life this man gunned down (a) loved (animal) ‘w/ a high-powered weapon. All wild animals are beloved by their own, but to hunters like this overblown, over-privileged little man, they’re merely targets.

The photograph of this dentist, smiling over the corpse of another animal, will disgust every caring soul in the world.”

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer sought in illegal slaughter of Cecil, a protected and beloved lion, in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean police said Tuesday they are searching for American tourist Water Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who allegedly shot a beloved, protected lion known as Cecil with a crossbow in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others.  A petition calling for justice for the lion has topped more than 332,000 signatures. (Sign petition demanding justice for Cecil.)

Authorities on Tuesday said two Zimbabwean men will appear in court for allegedly helping lure the lion outside of its protected area to kill it. The American faces poaching charges, according to police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

The American allegedly paid $50,000 to hunt the lion, Zimbabwean conservationists said, though the hunter and is local partners maintain they didn’t know the lion they killed was protected.

Palmer, a Minnesota dentists, was identified on Tuesday by both the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe as the American hunter, a name that police then confirmed. 

This was not the first time that Palmer, an avid hunter, has run afoul of the law in his pursuit of big game. He pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside of the authorized hunting zone, according to court documents.

“We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case,” Charamba said.

Emmanuel Fundira, the president of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe, said at a news conference that Palmer’ current whereabouts were unknown.

Palmer issued a statement saying he was unaware that the lion was so well known and part of a study.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt,” he said, maintaining that to his knowledge, everything about the hunt had been legal.

Attempts to reach Palmer, 55, at his two listed home numbers and his office by phone and in person were unsuccessful. Palmer’s River Bluff dental practice in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is shuttered.

This was not the first time Palmer has run afoul of the law in pursuit of his blood sport. The avid hunter pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about a black bear he fatally shot in western Wisconsin outside of the authorized hunting zone, according to court documents.

The two arrested Zimbabwean men — a professional hunter and a farm owner — face poaching charges, the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said in a joint statement. Killing the lion was illegal because the farm owner did not have a hunting permit, the joint statement said. The lion was skinned and beheaded. The hunters tried to destroy the lion’s collar, fitted with a tracking device, but failed, the statement said.

If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.

The lion is believed to have been killed on July 1 in western Zimbabwe’s wildlife-rich Hwange region, its carcass discovered days later by trackers, the statement said.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a statement that an American paid the $50,000 for the hunt. During a nighttime hunt, the men tied a dead animal to their car to lure the lion out of a national park, said Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. The American is believed to have shot it with a crossbow, injuring the animal. The wounded, suffering lion was found 40 hours later, and shot dead with a gun, Rodrigues said in the statement. 

Cecil was then skinned and decapitated, presumably so Palmer would have the head — or “trophy” — preserved and mounted on a wall.

“The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs,” said Rodrigues.

The Zimbabwean hunter accused in the case claimed that Cecil was not specifically targeted, and the group only learning after the fact that they had killed a well-known lion, according to the Safari Operators Association.

Cecil, recognizable by his black mane, was being studied by an Oxford University research program, the conservation group said.

Tourists regularly spotted his characteristic mane in the park over the last 13 years, said Lion Aid, also a conservation group.

Associated Press reporters Amy Forliti in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Brian Bakst in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.

U.S. denounces arrest of LGBT activists in Zimbabwe

The State Department on Aug. 23 denounced two anti-LGBT raids and the arrest of 44 LGBT civil rights activists in Zimbabwe.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in prepared remarks, “The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on Aug. 11 and a second raid by police on Aug. 20. Several of these members sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges. The government of Zimbabwe has also targeted these same members’ homes and singled out their families for interrogation and harassment.”

Nuland also said, “The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists. We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights.”

The U.S. is calling on the government of Zimbabwe to “end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people,” Nuland concluded.

Phone photos lead to arrest of two Zimbabwean men

Zimbabwean authorities arrested two men after a third person provided photographs of them embracing in bed.

The New Zimbabwe reports that one of the detainees had left a phone charging at an Harare mobile store, where an employee looked through his photographs. The employee apparently found the bedroom images and called the police to report the men.

“I can confirm that we have arrested two men who are assisting officers with their investigations following the discovery of a set of images of a sexual nature. No charges have been brought at present,” a police said, according to the New Zimbabwe.

One witness told the news service that before authorities arrived to arrest the men, a crowd gathered to “mete out” justice.

Another said people threw stones and made catcalls.

The New Zimbabwe reported that one of the men arrested denied he is gay and explained the photographs were the result of a drunken night in which he “ended up behaving strangely.” It was unclear from the initial report when he said this.

Same-sex relations are illegal in Zimbabwe.

Human rights activists want that to change in the new charter being drafted, but President Robert Mugabe, who has said gays are “worse than dogs” and “filth,” opposes decriminalization.

Download a PDF of the current issue of Wisconsin Gazette and join our Facebook community.

Zimbabwe lawmaker jailed over presidential insult

The party of Zimbabwe’s prime minister says one of its lawmakers will be jailed over the holidays on charges that she insulted the president at a political rally.

AP reported that the Movement for Democratic Change said Lynette Kerenyi is scheduled to reappear in court Dec. 28 after state prosecutors defied a court ruling freeing her on $200 bail.

She had criticized President Robert Mugabe over his stand against homosexuality.

It is an offense in Zimbabwe to “undermine the authority” of the president.

The prosecutors invoked a harsh law canceling bail until they appeal the ruling. Her party has called for all minority rights to be enshrined in the nation’s new constitution.

Source: AP