Zimbabwe accuses another American of illegally killing a lion

Harare, Aug 3 (IANS/EFE) Zimbabwean authorities on Sunday accused another US citizen of illegally killing a lion months before Cecil, the African country’s most famous lion, was killed by American dentist Walter James Palmer.

Jan Casmir Sieski, of Pennsylvania, is accused of participating in an illegal lion hunt in April, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) said.

Headman Sibanda, a Zimbabwean citizen, was arrested for organising the illegal hunt that led to the lion’s death in April, the ZPWMA said.

Sibanda was detained “for breaching hunting regulations in that he hunted without a quota and permit at his Railway Farm 31 and is also the owner of Nyala Safaris, which conducted the hunt”, the wildlife agency said.

Zimbabwe said this weekend it was suspending the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants outside Hwange National Park in response to the killing of Cecil in July.

“Hunting of lions, leopards and elephants outside of Hwange National Park has been suspended with immediate effect,” ZPWMA director Edson Chidziya said on Saturday. “Any such hunts can only be conducted if confirmed and authorised by the head of the wildlife authority and if the hunters are accompanied by parks staff.”

American dentist Walter James Palmer admitted last week that he killed Cecil in early July.

“Following the killing of iconic lion Cecil outside Hwange National Park … on July 1, 2015, it is necessary for the ZPWMA to toughen regulations in all areas outside national parks,” Chidziya said.

Zimbabwe allows hunting on private game reserves and regulates safaris, but the taking of animals is not allowed in national parks.

Hunts with bows and arrows have also been suspended and require the ZPWMA director’s authorisation.

Conservation agencies have launched a campaign with other government departments to stop poaching.

Cecil was lured out of Hwange National Park and shot with a crossbow.

Conservationists and officials on Sunday said media reports that Cecil’s brother, Jericho, had been killed were incorrect.

Palmer said he went after Cecil on the assumption that the hunt was legal and the guides had obtained all the necessary permits.

“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, who lives in Minnesota, said in a statement released last week.

The killing of the 13-year-old lion has sparked outrage around the world, with people taking to social media to condemn Palmer’s actions.

Palmer participated in a night hunt at Hwange National Park, located in the western part of the country, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) said.

Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, was lured out of the park to a nearby property so he could be hunted.

The big cat was wearing a collar and was being monitored as part of an Oxford University lion conservation study.

Cecil was skinned and beheaded, the non-governmental ZCTF said, adding that the hunters tried to destroy the GPS collar that Cecil was wearing.

Professional guide Theo Bronkhorst, who led the hunt, and landowner Honest Ndlovu, onto whose property Cecil was lured, have been charged in connection with the lion’s killing, officials said.

Zimbabwe has called on the US to extradite Palmer.

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