Home » World News » Cecil's killer speaks up: Wouldn't have hunted the lion if I knew he had a name

Cecil's killer speaks up: Wouldn't have hunted the lion if I knew he had a name

Kunal Majumder | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 7:31 IST

After he was identified as the killer of Zimbabwe's most celebrated lion, Cecil, Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer had no option but to go out of public view. Protesters had gathered outside his clinic in Bloomington; his holiday home in Florida was vandalised; he was bashed, threatened and shamed all over the internet. The affluent game enthusiast became the internet's most hated man. But now, he is ready to return to work on 8 September, after more than a month.

Cecil the Lion EMBED

Cecil the Lion in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Living in Hwange National Park, 13-year-old Cecil was Zimbabwe's most famous lion. GPS-tracked and collared as part of an Oxford study on lions, Cecil was distinguished by his rare black mane. In July 2015, Palmer lured Cecil out of Hwange and injured him with a cross-bow. Cecil was then chased by Palmer and two Zimbabwean men and shot with a gun. And left headless.

"If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study obviously I wouldn't have taken it. Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion," said Palmer during his first and last interview on 6 September.

Conducted jointly by the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the interview was Palmer's feeble attempt to put out his side of the story. "Zimbabwe has been a wonderful country for me to hunt in, and I have always followed the laws."

Walter Palmer with one hunting trophy from 2008 EMBED

Palmer photographed with a hunting trophy in 2008. The same year he was put on probation and fined for illegally killing a bear in Wisconsin

Hunting lions is legal in Zimbabwe, but only after attaining specific government permits. Zimbabwean authorities believe Cecil's killing was illegal, and are trying the two citizens who helped Palmer. However, both Palmer and his adviser Joe Friedberg maintained that there was nothing illegal in hunting Cecil. "Everything was done properly. This was a legal hunt for a lion in Zimbabwe. And because of the professionalism of the people who had to help him, a lion was taken," said Friedberg.

On the other hand, Palmer said he's 'heartbroken' over the problems he caused to staff at his clinic. "I need to get back to my staff and my patients, and they want me back. That's why I'm back."

First published: 14 February 2017, 7:31 IST
Kunal Majumder @kunalmajumder

Editor for Speed News aka Catch Live and Operations at Catch, Kunal enjoys measuring his life in numbers. Of his 30 years of life, 12 have been spent working, 9 of them in journalism. The remaining 3 were spent in 2 call centres, talking to British and Australians about insurance and cellphones. In his journalistic capacity, Kunal has worked at 3 publications and headed 2 online teams. The '3' includes Images Multimedia, Tehelka and DNA. The '2' includes Tehelka and DNA. Catch is Kunal's 6th workplace, where he will head his 3rd team as speed news editor. As a reporter, he won 2 awards - Statesman Award for Rural Reporting and UNFPA-Laadli Award for Gender Sensitivity. That's his story in Prime Numbers (a section on this site from which he's taken inspiration).