Court hearing delayed for Zimbabwe lion hunt co-accused

Court hearing delayed for Zimbabwe lion hunt co-accused
Girl holds sign at the doorway of Bloomington's River Bluff Dental clinic in protest against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe.
PHOTO: Reuters

HWANGE, Zimbabwe - A court hearing for a Zimbabwean landowner who is accused of allowing the hunt that killed Cecil the lion was postponed Thursday amid continuing worldwide outrage at the animal's death.

Honest Ndlovu was scheduled to appear in Hwange magistrates' court over the hunt in which a wealthy American dentist shot dead Cecil, a collared lion well-known to tourists.

"We have been told the state will send a summons when the charge is ready," Ndlovu's lawyer Tonderai Mukuku told AFP outside the court.

"Most likely it will be next week."

Walter Palmer, the trophy hunter from Minnesota, left Zimbabwe after the hunt earlier this month, and is thought to be in hiding due to the firestorm of abuse directed against him.

Palmer allegedly paid at least US$50,000 (S$68,773) for the hunt in which he shot the lion with a powerful bow and arrow.

Professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst, who organised the expedition, was granted bail by the Hwange court on Wednesday after being charged with "failing to prevent an illegal hunt".

Palmer has said he was shocked to find that the dead lion had been lured out of Hwange national park and was collared as part of a University of Oxford research project.

About 50,000 visitors - half of them from abroad - visit the park every year, and Cecil was a much-photographed star attraction due to his distinctive black mane.

His death unleashed fury around the world, with much bitter Internet abuse aimed at Palmer.

Images of Palmer grinning over dead prey from previous hunts - including a limp leopard held up to the camera - circulated widely on the Internet, fuelling anger over trophy hunting.

Zimbabwe police on Thursday denied that they may ask Interpol to help bring Palmer to justice.

Bronkhorst is due to stand trial on August 5.

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