News Daily Spot: Cecil The Lion: Two In Court Over Killing

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Cecil The Lion: Two In Court Over Killing

Two Zimbabwean men charged with poaching following the killing of Cecil the lion have appeared in court, as the US dentist who allegedly paid them to hunt the animal faces a public backlash.
The pair are accused of luring the famous animal from a protected area so he could be hunted by Walter Palmer, who reportedly paid park guides $50,000 (£32,000) to kill the lion.
Mr Palmer has said he believed the trip was legal.
Cecil was wounded with a crossbow, tracked for 40 hours and then shot with a rifle, according to Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The 13-year-old lion was then decapitated and skinned.
Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris, attended the court in Hwange - 500 miles west of the capital Harare - along with owner of the land that borders the park, Honest TrymoreNdlovu.
The Zimbabwean Parks & Wildlife Authority said: "Both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt."
The men face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Both men appeared at the Hwange magistrate's court, about 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the capital Harare.
Mr Palmer, who has left Zimbabwe, is also facing poaching charges, according to police.
Spokeswoman Charity Charamba said: "We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case."
Mr Palmer told his local newspaper, The Star Tribune, he had no idea the lion was a "known, local favourite".
He said: "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 favourite, 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.
"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."
Mr Rodrigues told Sky News: "The professional hunters scented the area by dragging a dead animal ... and lured the lion to this spot.
"And then they came in at night while the lion was feeding, with a spotlight, and shot it with a bow and arrow.
"They didn't kill him straight away.
"They took 40 hours to do a follow-up and eventually they caught up with him and shot him with a rifle."
The lion had a GPS collar for researchers at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit to track its movements.
Attempts to destroy the collar were unsuccessful, which was how the animal was found.
The research unit's founding director, David Macdonald, said: "It's not many months ago that I watched Cecil with my hand on my heart as he strayed toward a hunting concession.
"On that occasion he turned back into the protection of the park, but this time he made a fatal mistake and I feel deeply sad, personally."
Mr Rodrigues added that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil's cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females, which is standard procedure for lions.

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