Landowner in Cecil killing in court for 'illegal hunt'

HWANGE, Zimbabwe - The owner of the land in western Zimbabwe where Cecil the lion was killed appeared in court Tuesday on charges of allowing an illegal hunt.

Honest Ndlovu, proprietor of Antoinette Farm, was not asked to plead when he appeared before the magistrate's court in the resort town of Hwange.

Magistrate Portia Mhlanga adjourned the session after a brief hearing, granting Ndlovu $200 bail.

The landowner was arrested in August following the killing of Cecil in early July by Walter Palmer, an American dentist armed with a bow and arrow who paid US$55,000 (S$77,000) to shoot a lion.

The hunt provoked worldwide outrage when it emerged Cecil was a favourite attraction among visitors to Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park and was wearing a tracking collar as part of an Oxford University research project.

He was reportedly lured with bait from the safety of the park on to the neighbouring Antoinette Farm.

Ndlovu is due be back in court on September 18.

Zimbabwe has asked the United States to extradite Palmer to face charges over the hunt.

Palmer's guide on the expedition, Zimbabwean Theo Bronkhorst, appeared in court last month and was granted $1,000 bail pending his trial on September 28 on charges of organising an illegal hunt.

Zimbabwe introduced strict hunting restrictions earlier this month in the wake of the killing, but lifted most of them last week.