Lion in hunting photo maybe not be Cecil - hunters' association

2015-07-29 11:28
Cecil the lion in Hwange National Park.(Bryan Orford, YouTube)

Cecil the lion in Hwange National Park.(Bryan Orford, YouTube)

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Johannesburg - A photo said to be of Cecil the lion, who was hunted and killed earlier this month, is apparently that of another hunt involving US dentist Walter Palmer, Professional Hunters’ Association of SA (Phasa) president Hermann Meyeridricks said on Wednesday.

"Apparently the photograph that is being used by the media worldwide... is of another lion which was hunted a long time ago by this particular hunting client with another gentleman who had nothing to do with the Cecil the lion incident," he told News24.

"We have been contacted by one of our members saying one of the photographs being used [showing a lion after it has been shot] is a photograph from long time ago. He has nothing to do with that hunt [where Cecil was killed] and he is busy looking at his legal options because of the photograph."

Meyeridricks said he could not comment on the actual incident involving Cecil the lion as he did not have "proper information".

Two expected in court for killing Cecil

However, he said Phasa would contact its counterparts in Zimbabwe to try get concrete evidence on what happened.

According to AFP, two people, a Zimbabwean professional hunter and a local landowner, are expected to appear in court on Wednesday in connection with the killing of Cecil.

The Zimbabwean Parks Authority, in a statement said professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and landowner Honest Ndlovu would appear in court on Wednesday.

"Theo Bronkhorst, a professional hunter with Bushman Safaris, is facing criminal charges for allegedly killing a collared lion on Antoinette farm in Gwayi Conservancy, Hwange district on July 1, 2015," it was quoted as saying.

Cecil the lion, which was a popular attraction at the Hwange National Park, was allegedly lured outside the park using bait, and then shot.

According to AFP, local media reports said the 13-year-old lion had been beheaded and skinned after his death.

He was collared and tracked for research.

‘Tide of public opinion turning against canned hunting’

In a statement sent out on Monday, Meyeridricks called on the hunting association to reconsider its position on lion hunting.

"From my dealings with the media and the community, it has become clear that those against the hunting of lions bred in captivity are no longer just a small if vociferous group of animal-rights activists," he said in a copy of a letter emailed to Phasa members.

"Broader society is no longer neutral on this question and the tide of public opinion is turning strongly against this form of hunting, however it is termed.  Even within our own ranks, as well as in the hunting fraternity as a whole, respected voices are speaking out publicly against it."

He said Phasa had to face the fact that the lion issue was putting the reputation of professional hunting in South Africa and its survival at risk.

"Phasa’s current policy on the issue is, broadly speaking, that it recognises the legality of and demand for captive-bred lion hunting, and is working with the predator breeders and government to improve its standards and conditions to a generally acceptable level."

However, little progress on this front can be shown, he said.

"Against this background, I have come to believe that ... our position on lion hunting is no longer tenable."

The matter would be on Phasa's agenda at its next annual general meeting.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  conservation  |  animals

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