Cecil the lion’s hunter appears in court

Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst, charged with poaching, appeared in Hwange Magistrates Court.

This handout picture taken in October 2012 and released on 28 July 2015 by the Zimbabwe National Parks agency shows the much-loved Zimbabwean lion called Cecil, who was shot and killed outside the Hwange National Park this month by a US dentist. Picture: AFP.

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.

Zimbabwean men paid by American hunter who killed #Cecil the lion arrive in court: http://t.co/T0J6rrGMHk pic.twitter.com/MJBg6UATXR

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."

RIP #CecilTheLion

I'm struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this pic.twitter.com/lile3Kb2dk

. @jimmykimmel's monologue on #CecilTheLion is so important.

humanity is important.

https://t.co/oS2j28CDDF pic.twitter.com/213DxYwEpu

Please join the #NoMoreCecils tweetstorm at http://t.co/Bn8TA7jYXv Don't let the death of #CecilTheLion be in vain! pic.twitter.com/qN4f0cHo1O

"EVERYONE. please RT!

Born To Be Free, Not To Be Trophies

#CecilTheLion #Hunting

http://t.co/Fruh8cFUAo pic.twitter.com/MghnHRjS12"

#CecilTheLion This is the sort of picture we should be retweeting, pic.twitter.com/LCWhQXnrZa

"Any man that sees death as a trophy has actually failed in the game of life."

Wilkine Brutus @wilkinebrutus