Friday, 14 August 2015
Lion-killing dentist ‘paid bribe to cover up illegal bear slaughter’
THE dentist who killed Cecil the Lion illegally slaughtered a black bear and ‘tried to bribe hunting guides in a bid to cover it up’.
Walter Palmer stalked and killed the creature without a permit during a hunt in 2006 hunt in Wisconsin, US.
After posing proudly next to its carcass, he allegedly offered his three guides almost £13,000 to keep quiet and make false statements to prosecutors.
Yet the guides did not accept the bribes or lie, and in 2008 he pleaded guilty to making false statements about the black bear.
He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to £160,000, but paid a measly sum of just under £2,000 and was sentenced to a year’s probation.
The Minnesota dentist became one of the most despised men in the world and went into hiding amid death threats after it came to light that he was responsible for killing cherished lion Cecil on an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe.
He reportedly paid safari guide Theo Bronkhorst more than £32,000 to help him bag a lion to add to his kill list on a safari last month.
But when their trip was delayed, Palmer decided to go to an unapproved hunting area at Hwange National Park.
Cecil was shot with a bow and arrow before being tracked in severe pain for more than 40 hours. Bronkhorst told authorities that Palmer eventually caught up with him and fired the final, fatal blow with a rifle.
The lion was then beheaded.
The lion was famous and adored across Africa for his distinctive black mane and was also the subject of an Oxford University research project.
In the past few weeks, the full extent of Palmer’s bloodthirsty ways have been revealed, with moose, deer, buffalo, mountain lions and even a polar bear under his belt in hunts across the globe.
Since his name and picture was released, he has kept a low profile as death threats and vandalism to his home and workplace have caused him to hire armed guards and install security cameras.
Zimbabwe’s environment minister Oppah Muchinguri has said that she is trying to extradite Palmer for hunting without the proper permits.
In a statement, Palmer, who temporarily closed his dental practice, admitted to killing the lion but said he had no idea that Cecil was a well-known local favourite, nor that they were hunting in a restricted area.
He said: “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”
Bronkhorst has been arrested and is facing criminal charges for poaching in connection with Cecil’s death.