Zimbabwe To Call Off Extradition Of American Hunter Who Killed Cecil The Lion

Amid fears that extraditing an American bow hunter for killing Cecil the lion could hurt Zimbabwe's hunting business, authorities seem to have cooled off on pursuing the case against Walter Palmer.

It has been a month since Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri announced that the police would process paperwork to extradite Palmer for participating in a hunt that authorities here said was illegal. On Monday there were no new developments in the matters, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told The Associated Press.

"I still have nothing on that case," she said.

The National Prosecuting Authority, which is responsible for processing extradition requests, said Palmer was not on its files because the police had yet to process a docket for Palmer, a dentist from suburban Minneapolis.

In an interview with AP on Sunday in Minneapolis, Palmer said he believes he acted legally and that he was stunned to find out his hunting party had killed a treasured animal in July. Cecil was a fixture in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park and had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of Oxford University lion research.

Pursuing Palmer without a concrete case could rattle potential big-paying customers from the United States, said a Zimbabwean government official and safari operators.

Theo Bronkhorst, a Zimbabwean professional hunter who helped Palmer, has been charged with "failure to prevent an illegal hunt." Honest Ndlovu, whose property is near Hwange park, faces a charge of allowing the lion hunt to occur on his farm without proper authority. The hunters allegedly lured Cecil out of Hwange with an animal carcass.

Palmer's hosts should have ensured the hunt was legal, said Emmanuel Fundira, chair of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.

"These are the people expected to know the rules and advise clients accordingly," he said. "Clients may end up thinking twice before coming to Zimbabwe if such cases are not handled carefully. Authorities have to be sure there is a case before pushing for the extradition of these hunters."

Hunting supports about 800 000 rural Zimbabwean families, said Fundira.
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