The American dentist who sparked global outcry after killing Cecil the Lion has said he will return to work on Tuesday.
Walter Palmer, 55, vanished after he was identified as the hunter who paid around £35,000 to butcher the iconic animal in Zimbabwe in July.
The big cat had been lured from Hwange National Park on to a neighbouring farm, where Palmer shot it with a bow and arrow.
Cecil, famous across Africa for his black mane and also the subject of an Oxford University research project, was just wounded.
In pain, it is believed he was tracked for 40 hours before Palmer shot him dead with his gun. Cecil was then beheaded.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the furore, Palmer denied that he went into hiding after he was identified as Cecil’s killer, and repeated his claim that he believed the hunt was legal.
Flanked either side by a lawyer and a PR consultant, he told the press: “I’ve been out of the public eye seeing family and friends.”
He claimed there has been “some safety issues” for his family, adding “this has been especially hard on my wife and my daughter.
“They’ve been threatened in the social media, and again… I don’t understand that level of humanity to come after people not involved at all.”
Palmer claimed he did not realises Cecil was wearing a collar and was regarded as a national treasure.
“If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn’t have taken it,” he said.
“Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”
Palmer also revealed he will be returning to work at his Minnesota dental practice, River Bluff Dental, which has been targeted by animal rights protesters this week.
Zimbabwean authorities have asked the U.S to extradite Palmer to face charges over the killing, but it remains unclear if this is likely to happen.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has opened its own investigation.
Hunt co-ordinator Theo Bronkhorst was arrested.
He and farm landowner Honest Trymore Ndlovu face criminal poaching charges over Cecil’s death.
Both deny any wrongdoing.