Honest Ndlovu, the game park operator accused of letting American dentist Walter Palmer illegally hunt and kill Cecil the lion on his property in Zimbabwe, has been charged in connection with the killing and released on bail in Hwange, his lawyer said.
The killing of Cecil, a 13-year-old, rare, black-maned lion and a popular tourist attraction, caused worldwide outrage and triggered a major backlash against Africa’s multi-million dollar hunting industry.
Honest Ndlovu owns the game park into which Cecil was lured from the adjacent Hwange National Park and shot with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer.
He was charged with permitting “a person who is not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe to hunt the said animal which was not on the hunting quota”.
Lawyer Tonderai Mukuku said Honest Ndlovu denies the charge and was set free on $200 bail. He will return to court on September 18.
The same Hwange court last week postponed until September 28 the trial of local hunter Theo Bronkhorst.
Theo Bronkhorst, who acted as Walter Palmer’s guide, is accused of failing to prevent the American from killing Cecil, who had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University study.
Cecil the lion was a favorite with tourists visiting Hwange park.
Zimbabwe wants Walter Palmer, 55, extradited from the US to face trial.
Cecil the lion may be commemorated by a bronze statue at the entrance to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park in, where he lived, a Zimbabwe conservation group has announced.
The lion’s death prompted worldwide outrage after being killed by American dentist Walter Palmer.
Zimbabwe is now seeking Walter Palmer’s extradition.
Cecil’s death made headlines around the world, and sent Walter Palmer into hiding.
The famous lion was killed outside Hwange park using a bow and arrow. Walter Palmer says he thought the hunt was legal but two Zimbabwean men have been arrested over the killing.
Cheryl Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said people had already offered donations for the sculpture – the cost of which has not yet been confirmed.
She said: “Cecil was such an icon and it’s created such a fuss everywhere we thought it would be nice to do it.”
The Conservation Task Force has commissioned John Binder of Birds for Africa to make the statue and said it would be an “excellent reminder to all who visit the park”.
John Binder, a metal sculptor for 24 years, said he was “a little bit thunderstruck” to be asked and when his wife Debbie found out she nearly fell over.
“There’s a hell of a lot of pressure,” he said.
John Binder called Cecil’s death “crazy, stupid” and down to “sheer greed”, but added: “We are going to have to be detached from the emotion and get on with the job.”
His previous work includes statues of a pride of lions at a private game lodge in South Africa.
Oxford University had been studying Cecil for lion conservation and John Binder said he was hoping researchers could tell him how much the lion weighed and his dimensions to make the sculpture as realistic as possible.
Cheryl Rodrigues said it was not clear whether a permit would be needed from the park for the statue to be placed at the entrance.
Some have criticized the plan, telling the organization on their Facebook page that it would be more beneficial to use the money to counter corruption and improve conservation.
This is not the only legacy project afoot for the 13-year-old animal renowned for being friendly towards visitors.
Earlier this week the conservation group’s chairman Johnny Rodrigues suggested Cecil’s head be mounted in a glass case.