Did American dentist who killed Cecil the lion do anything illegal?

Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 29, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. -- Local hunter Marlon Dance, who is very familiar with how American hunters like dentist Walter Palmer hire professional hunters in Africa, said it’s too early to condemn Palmer for killing a famed lion named Cecil.

“He might be guilty as sin, or he might not have known anything about the circumstances in this hunt,” Dance said.

Officials said Palmer paid more than $50,000 for a hunt in Zimbabwe, and killed Cecil who was widely known in the country for his black mane.

“If you want to hunt a trophy lion then you can say 'I would like to hunt a trophy lion,' it might take you a week, it might take you years before the outfitter calls,” Dance said explaining how the professional hunting industry works in Africa.

Marlon Dance

Marlon Dance

The professional hunter Palmer hired and the man who owns the land where the animal was shot have been charged with poaching. A conservation group in Zimbabwe said the hunters illegally lured Cecil out of a park sanctuary.

“They could have easily done that without him knowing about it,” Dance said.

Professor Todd Lookingbill, a biology and geography professor at the University of Richmond, has studied in Africa and said the huge sums of money hunters pay for these hunts can lead to things like illegal activities.

“You can imagine the blow-back if these hunters went overseas, spent the time and money to go overseas and came back empty-handed,” Lookingbill said.


Cecil the lion

Palmer said in a statement “to my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted.”

But, Dance said, if he’s lying and “if he’s guilty, he deserves the ass whippin' he's going to get.”

Cecil was being studied by Oxford University, so he wore a GPS collar.

Conservation officials said the hunters who tried to destroy that collar when they beheaded and skinned the lion.

Palmer said in his statement, “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.”


“He might be guilty as sin, or he might not have known anything about the circumstances in this hunt,” Dance said.



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