Outrage continues to be directed at Minnesota dentist, Dr Walter James Palmer, the poacher who ‘illegally hunted’ down iconic Zimbabwe lion, Cecil the lion after vandals defaced the dentist’s Florida vacation home.
With the words ‘Lion Killer’ spray painted on the dentist’s one million home garage and the front lawn littered with orange pig feet at the Marco Island residence, denouncers of the hunter refuse to let up on their fury against the hunter who came to be the recipient of the internet’s wrath after it was revealed he had orchestrated the iconic lion’s death.
Since his outing by Zimbabwe authorities and the Oxford University research team that had been tracking the lion, who only came across the lion after its GPS tracker was unceremoniously dumped after the lion was skinned and beheaded, the dentist remains in hiding.
The felling of the lion has led to Palmer becoming one of America’s most hated men as animal rights activist use Cecil’s death as a reason to bring down the big game hunting industry.
After receiving tens of thousands of death threats, the married father of two closed his dental surgery and has not been seen at either his house in Minnesota nor his mansion in Florida.
In a note to his patients shortly after it was revealed to be the hunter that felled Cecil and the recipient of condemning yelp reviews, the dentist wrote: ‘I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.’ He said he would resume his dental practice ‘as soon as possible.’
Last week, Palmer issued a statement saying he relied on his guides to ensure the hunt was legal. Two Zimbabweans – a professional hunter and a farm owner, Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Trymore Ndlovu have been arrested in the killing of the lion, an act which has garnered worldwide condemnation.
Nonetheless, Zimbabwe are calling for the dentist to be extradited so he can face charges for the illegal hunt.
Oppah Muchinguir, environment, water and climate minister, told a news conference Friday: ‘We want him tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws. … Police should take the first step to approach the prosecutor general who will approach the Americans. The processes have already started.’
‘Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin,’ Muchinguri said. ‘We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he be made accountable.’
There is an extradition treaty between Zimbabwe and the United States.
The US Embassy in Zimbabwe said Friday that it does not comment on extradition matters and the Zimbabwe Embassy in Washington said it had yet to receive instructions.
‘We are trying other avenues,’ said Richard Chibuwe, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Washington. ‘Seeking extradition would be the last resort.’
On Friday, officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that Palmer had voluntarily contacted them through a representative and that he is cooperating with the agency.
The agency had said the previous day that they had made multiple attempts to contact Palmer, to no avail, and called on him or a representative to contact the agency immediately.
The agency is in the middle of an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Cecil the lion’s death.