Zimbabwe’s environment minister Oppah Muchinguri has said his country is working around the clock to have the American dentist who killed Cecil the lion extradited to Zimbabwe.
The announcement made Friday is the first official comment from Zimbabwe following Cecil’s killing which grabbed worldwide attention this week.Muchinguri said Prosecutor General had started the process to have 55-year-old Walter Palmer extradited from the United States. He described Cecil as an exceptional black-maned lion renowned by tourists in the Hwange National Park, as an "iconic attraction".
"The illegal killing was deliberate," she said at a news conference. "We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal actions," he said.
Palmer has acknowledged slaying the 13-year-old lion, who was fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study. According to palmer, he had engaged professional guides and believed the required hunting permits were in order.
Palmers’ identity was revealed by Zimbabwean conservationists this week and the American dentist has since disappeared from public eye.On Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is probing the killing of the lion, said it had been contacted by a representative for Palmer on Thursday.
IBN live reported that the Zimbabwean diplomat in Washington said the embassy was not aware that extradition proceedings had been initiated by his government. Richard Chibuwe, deputy chief of the mission, said Zimbabwe takes the case very seriously and noted that two Zimbabwean men face court proceedings for helping Palmer.
Even with global media reportage of Cecil's killing, the cat's unfortunate death has gone largely unnoticed in Zimbabwe.