Zimbabwe is seeking the extradition of Walter Palmer, the American dentist who killed a famous lion named Cecil, which was being tracked in a university study.
The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri said that they are appealing to the proper authorities for Palmer's extradition, the Associated Press reports. "Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin," she said in a press conference. The AP continues:
"She said both Palmer and professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst violated the Parks and Wildlife Act, which controls the use of bow and arrow hunting. She said Palmer, who reportedly paid $50,000 to hunt the lion, also violated the act through financing an illegal hunt. The landowner violated the act because he 'allowed a hunt to be conducted without a quota and necessary permit,' Muchinguri said.
" 'I have already consulted with the authorities within the police force who are responsible for arresting the criminal. We have certain processes we have to follow,' Muchinguri said at the offices of the national parks and wildlife authority. 'Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started.' "
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tweeted that a representative of Palmer voluntarily contacted the organization on Thursday. The day before, the USFWS asked Palmer or his representative to contact it immediately.
As we reported, Palmer is a dentist from Minnesota who has been identified as the person who allegedly killed Cecil, a famous lion in Zimbabwe. In a statement Tuesday, Palmer wrote:
"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.
"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. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt."
On a related note, the United Nations has adopted its first-ever wildlife tracking resolution. In a press release, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says it's a historic step forward. He says, "In calling for wildlife crime to be treated as a serious crime, both nationally and across borders, the resolution sends a clear signal to organized criminal networks involved in this illicit trafficking that their time will soon be up."