via Cecil’s slaughter angers Mugabe – DailyNews Live 11 August 2015 by Ndakaziva Majaka
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has blasted wildlife authorities accusing them of failing to protect the world’s most famous lion, Cecil which was brutally killed by American dentist, Walter Palmer at Hwange National Park recently.
Mugabe came out guns blazing yesterday during Heroes Day commemorations in Harare saying Zimbabweans had abdicated their responsibility to protect the country’s natural resources from “vandals”.
“You failed to protect Cecil yet it was your responsibility. As a country we have vagrants coming from all over, some coming as visitors, but other visitors are just here to vandalise, to irregularly and illegally acquire our resources,” he charged.
Mugabe also said it was illegal for anyone, even Zimbabwean nationals, to shoot even harmful animals using guns or arrows.
“Hazvipfurwe nepfuti, chitema, kana museve. Inini ndichiri kacheche ndakazvidzidziswa izvi asi unoona vamwe vanhu vachitoita chinhu chakadai. (Animals must not be shot using guns or arrows. It is a sin. When I was a young boy, I was taught that this behaviour is unacceptable, but I am amazed to see some grown people exhibiting such behaviour),” Mugabe said in his first public comments about the much-loved lion.
He also said Cecil’s highly-publicised death was a “vestige of colonial exploitation”.
Cecil, a 13-year-old lion — and a major tourist draw card at Hwange National Park — was killed by Palmer with assistance from locals who have since been arrested and appeared in court.
Palmer is accused of financing an illegal hunt, and using a crossbow “to conceal the illegal hunt”.
Palmer first used a bow and arrow to hit Cecil after luring him out of Hwange National Park into the Gwaai Conservancy using a carcass. It did not immediately die, and Palmer with the help of his local guides, tracked the popular predator, and killed him with a gun 40 hours later.
Palmer, from Minnesota, in the United States (US), has said he relied on the expertise of local guides “to ensure a legal hunt”.
“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,” Palmer said in a statement last week. He allegedly paid $50 000 in early July to kill the lion.
Mugabe also demanded the extradition of Palmer. However, the US government has backed away from giving any more public comments on the administration’s handling of Zimbabwe’s extradition request for the American dentist.
In a carefully-worded statement, US embassy spokesperson Karen Kelley last week said due to privacy regulations, the Harare embassy could not speak on the extradition of Palmer.
Zimbabwe’s poaching crisis has been widely blamed on a vicious cycle of poverty caused by Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF.
According to sources, a baby elephant was slaughtered for meat during Mugabe’s 90th birthday celebrations in February.