2nd American Accused of Killing Lion Illegally in Zimbabwe
- VOA News Victor Beattie,August 4, 2015
WASHINGTON— Zimbabwe authorities, who recently requested that Washington extradite a Minnesota dentist for allegedly poaching a rare, black-maned lion, have accused a second American of illegally killing another lion.
Pennsylvania medical doctor Jan Casimir Seski, a bow hunter, has been accused of illegally killing a lion near Hwange National Park in April. Safari organizer and landowner Headman Sibanda has been arrested in the case.
The announcement follows last week's revelation that dentist and bow hunter Walter Palmer killed a locally popular, black-maned lion in early July.
The killings have generated an international debate over trophy hunting and have prompted Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to suspend hunting of lions, leopards and elephants around Hwange.
In a statement last week, Palmer said he believed he was acting legally when he killed Cecil on July 1. He said he used professional guides and secured all proper permits.
On Wednesday, guide Theo Bronkhorst faces trial in Zimbabwe on a charge of failing to prevent an illegal hunt with Palmer. In an interview with the French news agency AFP, he denied allegations that they lured the wounded Cecil out of Hwange and killed him with a gun. He has pleaded not guilty.
Conservationist Jack Hanna, who'd directed the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, said Sunday on the ABC newscast "This Week" that the lion population has declined dramatically in the last 70 years.
"In 1947, when I was born, there were about 450,000 lions" worldwide, he said. The number had dropped to 100,000 in the mid-1970s, he added, and fewer than 30,000 remain today.
He urged "immediately considering the loss of lions," perhaps redistributing some from areas where they're plentiful to supportive habitats where they're otherwise disappearing.
Hanna called for more careful consideratin of trophy hunting, in which parts of a slain animal, such as the skin, antlers or head, are kept for display.
"I'm not saying an end to everything," he said. "The predator-prey relationship is messed up in a lot of places, so you have to work on that."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the Palmer case. The dentist has not been seen in public since the story broke last week. His office is closed and he reportedly has received death threats.Comments have flooded the Twitter hashtag #CecilTheLion.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Friday declined to discuss Zimbabwe's request that Palmer be sent there for trial.