Monday, September 07, 2015

Zimbabwe Bans Hunting Near Hwange

Latest: The last person with standing to question his critics' "humanity" is Walter Palmer, the infamous slayer of Cecil, the lion king. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mr. Palmer claims he "always followed the laws" in his hunting--a flat out lie since he was convicted of lying about his illegal black bear hunt in Wisconsin--and that he questioned "the level of humanity" of his on-line critics. Mr. Palmer also resorts to dragging his wife and daughter into the controversy over his actions in Zimbabwe, saying it has been particularly hard on them. He should of thought of the possible consequences for his family when he killed a lion wearing a radio collar. His guides resorted to hiding the collar in a tree after decapitating Cecil. Despite his outrageously callous conduct, he is unlikely to face prosecution in the US, or extradition to Zimbabwe since he has not been charged with a crime. Trophy hunting is big business in Zimbabwe and authorities are unlikely to take action that would jeopardize a source of foreign revenue. No US law applies to Americans hunting overseas if the prey animal is not legally protected by US law. All the more reason the US Fish & Wildlife service should declare lions an endangered species. If lions are listed, their bodies could not be imported into the US for some vandal like Palmer to hang on his wall to impress his wife and friends; without importable trophies, expensive overseas hunting would dry up. The agency faces an October deadline for declaring lions endangered. Meanwhile, Mr. Palmer has returned to his dental practice where he can generate more revenue to endulge his penchant for killing wildlife.

More:{27.08.15}The number of signatures to extradite killer dentist Walter Palmer to Zimbabwe has reached 234,810 signatures, exceeding its goal of 100,000 by August 27th. Palmer's dental clinic in Bloomington, MN remains close while his professional guide, Theo Bronkhorst, faces 15 years in jail for leading an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe. He called the charges against him "frivolous".  Newly released photographs show Palmer smiling beside a dead black bear he illegally killed in Wisconsin in 2006. He pleaded guilty to lying about the hunt in 2008 and was fined $3000 and sentenced to one year of probation. Palmer was authorized to kill a bear within a certain area according to court documents, but he with other members of his hunting group located the bear 40 miles outside the authorized hunting zone. Palmer and his associates conspired to lie about where the bear was killed when questioned by authorties. He transported the carcass to a registration station within the hunt area and filled out a registration stub falsely by certifying the bear was killed in the proper zone.  US Person finds slightly incredulous that this experienced big game hunter did not know Cecil had crossed the railroad track marking a boundary of Hwange National Park.

Everyone but Palmer seems to be paying a price for killing Cecil. A safari guide was mauled to death by a male lion while leading a walking safari in Hwange National Park on Monday.  The guide protected his Camp Hwange guests, but he died of his injuries resulting from the charge of the male lion.  The last photo he posted on-line was of Cecil.  Zimbabwe has quietly lifted the nationwide hun ban imposed after Cecil was killed in response to international outrage, but it remains on farms close to the park boundaries including the one  on which Cecil met his agonizing death.  President for life Robert Mugabe has expressed his anger at the failure to protect Cecil from what he termed "foreign vandals". He added he was taught to stop killing animals with a bow and arrow when he was seven or eight because, "These are God's creatures". Zimbabwe derives about 2% of GDP from hunting, mostly from foreigners after big game.

Update: {20.08.15}Zimbabwe has filed criminal charges against a landowner, Honest Ndlovu, who permitted American dentist Walter Palmer to kill Cecil the lion, an icon of Hwange National Park.  Ndlovu allowed Palmer to hunt on his land without an established quota for lion hunting. His land is speparated from the park by a railway track according to prosecutors. Ndlovu is free on bail until September 18th. The charge carries a one year prison term or a $400 fine. No word yet on whether Palmer will be charged for poaching the popular lion king. Zimbabwe's national prosecuting authority said police have not supplied the required information to extradite Palmer. Police have not commented on possible charges against Palmer. Theo Bronkhorst, a professional nimrod who lured Cecil out of bounds with food, was charge with conducting an illegal hunt. Justice demands Palmer should also be charged at least as an accomplice before the fact since he contracted for professional hunting guides and obtained permission to hunt on private land through his agents. As the instigator of the deplorable incident he had the responsibility to insure his hunt and the activity of his agents complied with all appropriate regulations. Palmer has a history of hunting activity including an incident in Wisconsin in which he lied about the circumstances in which he killed a black bear. Another American Jan Casimir Seski has also been acused of illegally killing alion in April, but so far only the landowner, Headman Sibanda, has been formerly charged.

{11.08.15} A positive result of the international cry of disgust about killing Cecil the Lion is that Zimbabwe has announced a ban on hunting of lions, leopards and elephants outside Hwange National Park.  Any hunts near the Park borders must now be cleared with the director of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and only if accompanied by park staff. Hunters are being reminded that transfer of quotas from hunting area to another is not permitted. Any such transfer is considered to be poaching. It is suspected that the professional hunters leading an American dentist and serial wildlife killer to Cecil, who was lured with bait a half mile outside the park boundaries, may have been invovled in such illegal activity. Thirteen-year-old Cecil was an ambassador for Hwange who appeared to enjoy human contact. Cecil generated a large amount of revenue for the park; tourists from a nearby lodge paid a collective $9800 per day to photograph the black-mained king. The killer dentist paid a one-time fee of $45,000 to destroy a beautiful creature that will no longer attract tourist revenue. Cecil's head and pelt are thought to be still in Bulawayo. Both hunters and the landowner are facing criminal charges since they had no permit or quota for the kill in Gwaai Conservancy according to Zimbabwe National Parks.

One of the principle researchers on Oxford University's study measuring the impact of trophy hunting outside the park boundaries on lion populations in the park said that Cecil's brother Jericho, as a single male, will probably be unable to defend the two prides once led by him and his brother. The prides contain six females and a dozen young cubs. What will most likely result from Cecil's slow death is infanticide by invading males. The researcher also said that recent study show sociological-spatial effects of hunting on resident prides. Their complex social system is disrupted causing their movement to become erratic and making it more likely some will leave the park to come into conflict with humans living on the boundaries of protected areas.

Why poaching continues to be such an urgent and devasting problem in Africa is explified by a recent case of ivory trafficking prosecuted by Malawi. The High Court there handed down the harshest sentences ever in a wildlife crime to two brothers for trafficking 2.6 tons of elephant viory. Still, the fine of MK 2.5 million ($5,500) each amounts to only a tiny fraction of the ivory's value on the international black market. the Kaunda brothers plead quilty on July28th and paid the fines instead of serving a seven year jail term. Malawi officials said that despite the record fine they were aware of the disparity to sentencing for similar crimes in nearby African nations. In Kenya a single tusk weighing 3.4kg brings a fine of $233,000. The High Court also ordered wildlife authorities to burn the country's stockpile of illegal ivory within 20 days.