Cecil the lion – the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe's national parks – was killed by an American hunter who has boasted about shooting a menagerie of animals with his bow and arrow, The Telegraph can reveal.
Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, is believed to have paid £35,000 to shoot and kill the much-loved lion with a bow and arrow. The animal was shot on July 1 in Hwange National Park. Two independent sources have confirmed the hunter's identity to the paper, which has also seen a copy of the relevant hunting permit.
|Kill bill 4, who's next ?|
In a statement, Mr Palmer told Colorado News, Mr Palmer said the authorities had yet to contact him and added he did not know the lion he had killed was a "local favourite".
"In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. 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," he said.
"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.
"I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the US about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."
|Walt Palmer, middle, with the "world record" white rhino killed by bow in South Africa.|
|The dental offices of Walter Palmer in Bloomington, Minnesota|