Cecil the lion update: Palmer reaches out to FSW as Zimbabwe seeks his extradition for the lion's death

By @nessdoctor on
cecil the lion
Piper Hoppe, 10, from Minnetonka, Minnesota, holds a sign at the doorway of River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday charged a professional local hunter Theo Bronkhorst with failing to prevent an American from unlawfully killing 'Cecil', the southern African country's best-known lion. The American, Walter James Palmer, a Minnesota dentist who paid $50,000 to kill the lion, has left Zimbabwe. He says he did kill the animal but believed the hunt was legal and that the necessary permits had been issued. Reuters/Eric Miller

The representative of American dentist Dr. Walter James Palmer has finally reached out to U.S. authorities on Thursday regarding his involvement in the death of Cecil the lion. Palmer is currently in hot water for reportedly hunting and killing Cecil in Zimbabwe on July 1. Cecil was also beheaded and skinned after being shot at Antoinette farm in Gwayi Conservancy, which is located in the Hwange district. Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe also seeks to extradite Palmer.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Office of Law Enforcement confirmed in a statement that Dr. Palmer's representative has "voluntarily" reached out to them on Thursday, according to a report by NBC News.

Earlier efforts to contact Dr. Palmer have been in vain. His dental clinic in Minneapolis has also been non-operational since he was identified on the news and social media as the one responsible for the death of Zimbabwe's most popular lion.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe's Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, released a statement on Friday seeking to extradite Palmer.

"Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin," Muchinguri said in a news conference, according to the AP report.

"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable," she added.

ABC reports that officials from the FWS have also expressed their commitment to investigate Cecil the Lion's case. Toronto Sun notes that the FWS investigation is under the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trading of any wildlife that has been illegally killed, transported or sold.

Outrage over the 13-year-old lion's death has been flooding the Internet lately. Aside from posting on various social media sites, netizens have also started several petitions against Palmer, including one on the WhiteHouse.gov website. It has collected over 200,000 signatures, calling on the government to extradite the dentist to Zimbabwe to face his accountability.

"We urge the Secretary of State John Kerry and the Attorney General Loretta Lynch to fully cooperate with the Zimbabwe authorities and to extradite Walter Palmer promptly as the Zimbabwe government's request," the petition to the Obama Administration read.

John Earnest, the White House press secretary, has acknowledged the said petition but has yet to give a time frame for their official reply. He also noted that extradition issues are handled by the Department of Justice.

Dr. Palmer is a known wildlife hunter and reportedly paid around US$50,000 (AU$69,000) for this hunt. He commissioned the assistance of local professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who was recently charged with supporting illegal poaching and is set to face trial on Aug. 5. Bronkhorst pleaded "not guilty" when he faced the court earlier this week and posted a US$1,000 (AU$1,400) bail.

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