By: KITSEPILE NYATHI
A Zimbabwean professional hunter was Wednesday granted $1,000 bail after he appeared in court over the death of an iconic lion, as international outrage grew over the incident.
An American dentist, Walter Palmer, has admitted he killed the collared lion after it was lured from the Hwange National Park to a private game reserve with food.
Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter, is accused of helping the American to kill and behead the collared lion known as Cecil that was used for research.
The lion was a tourist draw card for Zimbabwe.
Bronkhorst was slapped with stringent bail conditions that will see him surrendering his passport and reporting twice to the police every week.
He will reappear in court on August 5 on allegations of failing to prevent an illegal hunt.
His alleged accomplice, the owner of the private game farm, Honest Trymore Ndlovu, is expected to appear in court on Thursday charged with allowing an illegal hunt on his property.
The killing of the lion has been condemned throughout the world and on Wednesday, the United States said it was investigating the matter.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service said it was “deeply concerned” about the killing of the lion and was gathering information.
“The service is deeply concerned about the recent killing of Cecil the lion,” Vanessa Kauffman, a spokeswoman for the agency, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“We are currently gathering facts about the issue and will assist Zimbabwe officials in whatever manner requested.
“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.”
Palmer allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the lion that conservationists said helped Zimbabwe rack in thousands of dollars in tourism revenue every year.
The local tourism industry has described the killing of the lion as tragic.