Cecil the lion’s hunter appears in court
Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, charged with poaching, appeared in Hwange Magistrates Court.
HARARE - The Zimbabwean hunter who helped US dentist Walter Palmer kill Hwange National Park's famed lion, Cecil, has appeared in court today on charges of poaching.
The owner of the private game farm where Cecil was killed is facing similar charges.
The court appearance has happened quickly and there are suggestions it's been brought forward by a week.
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Insiders say it shows how seriously the government is treating the case.
The Hwange Magistrates Court, where the two men are appearing, has a reputation for handing down heavy sentences of up to 10 years against some convicted poachers.
Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and private land owner Honest Ndlovu are accused of illegally hunting Cecil, a lion that was well known in the area, with US dentist Walter Palmer who paid for the hunt.
Sources say the lion's black-maned head may be produced in court as an exhibit.
WATCH: Cecil the lion's killer identified
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says it doesn't believe an American dentist's claim that he believed he had a permit to shoot Cecil the lion.
Palmer is believed to have paid off a professional hunter and a farmer to lure Cecil out of the park before he shot and skinned him for a trophy hunt.
Chairman of the task force Johnny Rodrigues says as a well-read hunter, Palmer, is well aware that he was in restricted territory.
"They are all to blame. He pulled the trigger; he's the one who fired the arrow. You just can't go and blame one person or the other because the thing is he is a very well-educated man and he's a professional."
He says the task force tracked Cecil's GPS collar when he was reported missing despite Palmer's attempts destroy it.
"They tried to destroy the belt and they couldn't get it off. So they cut the lion's head off and skinned it and they tried to hide the belt by destroy it and that didn't work either."
I'm struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this pic.twitter.com/lile3Kb2dk
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humanity is important.
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Born To Be Free, Not To Be Trophies
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"Any man that sees death as a trophy has actually failed in the game of life."
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