US opens investigation on American who killed Zim lion

US officials have launched an investigation into the killing of an iconic lion in Zimbabwe but say they have been unable to reach the American involved.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it was “deeply concerned” about the “tragic” death of Cecil the lion.
Director Dan Ashe said they will “go where facts lead” but efforts to reach Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful.
Mr Palmer says he thought the hunt was legal but two Zimbabwean men have been arrested over the popular lion’s death.
The dental practice he runs in Minneapolis has been closed since he was named as the tourist who shot Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most famous lion.
Protesters gathered outside the building on Wednesday, carrying placards saying “Justice for Cecil”, “Trophy hunters are cowards” and “Prosecute poachers”.
On Thursday, the White House said it would review a public petition to extradite the American dentist after more than 100,000 signed it.
But spokesman Josh Earnest said it was up to the US Justice Department to respond to any extradition order.
Earlier, the FWS said: “We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.”
“At this point in time, however, multiple efforts to contact Walter Palmer have been unsuccessful,” it said, saying Mr Palmer or his representative should contact them immediately.
“It is up to all of us – not just the people of Africa – to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savannah for generations to come,” the statement said.
The whereabouts of Mr Palmer is currently unknown, but he is thought to have returned to the US after Cecil was killed on July 1.
Unethical and illegal
In a letter to his patients, the dentist said he would assist authorities in Zimbabwe or the US in their inquiries and apologised for the disruption to the clinic.
The American tourist is believed to have paid about $50,000 (£32,000) to go on the hunt in Zimbabwe.
Prosecutors in Zimbabwe have charged the hunter who supervised Mr Palmer’s outing, Theo Bronkhorst, for killing a lion not authorised to be hunted. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
The country’s safari organisation also said the way in which Cecil was lured out of a national park was unethical and possibly illegal.
A second suspect, farm owner Honest Ndlovu, was also arrested but is yet to be charged.
An international hunting organisation suspended the memberships of both Mr Palmer and Mr Bronkhorst on Thursday, saying it wanted a “full and thorough investigation” into the lion’s death.
Safari Club International, which promotes big-game hunting worldwide, said “those who intentionally take wildlife illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law”.
Cecil, who was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve in Hwange National Park, was being monitored by UK-based Oxford University as part of a conservation programme.
The animal is believed to have died on July 1, but the carcass was not discovered until a few days later. It had been skinned and beheaded.