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Zimbabwe: no charges for US dentist who killed Cecil the lion

Hunter Walter Palmer will not face charges for killing the famous animal in Zimbabwe, officials in the African country say. The US dentist's hunting papers were in order, according to authorities.

The US tourist Walter Palmer had all the required permits to hunt lions in Zimbabwe, and the officials cannot charge him for killing Cecil the lion, Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters on Monday.

"We approached the police and then the prosecutor general, and it turned out that (Walter) Palmer came to Zimbabwe because all the papers were in order," Muchinguri-Kashiri said. "We are now going to review how we issue hunting quotas."

Palmer, who is a seasoned trophy hunter, paid a local safari company $55,000 (48,000 euros) to go lion hunting with a bow and arrow in July.

According to representatives of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force charity, Palmer and his local guide lured the Cecil, the main attraction of Hwange national park, outside of park boundaries and shot him with an arrow. The lion, however, managed to get away.

"They tracked (Cecil) down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun," the charity alleged after Cecil's death was made public.

The lion was skinned and beheaded, according to the officials.

Blaming the guides

Cecil's death caused international outrage and prompted Zimbabwe authorities to launch a large-scale crackdown on poaching.

Faced with harsh criticism and demonstrations outside his dental practice in Minnesota, Palmer apologized for killing the lion and put the blame on his guides, saying that they misled him.

Zimbabwean officials have since charged local tracker Theo Bronkhurst with failure to prevent an illegal hunt in relation to Cecil's death. The guide is freed on bail and expected to appear before court on Thursday.

dj/bk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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