Authorities are hunting for the man accused of paying 50,000 euros (about $55,000) to kill and behead Cecil the lion, one of Africa’s most famous felines.
The animal was roaming Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park when he was hit with a bowman’s arrow, shot to death with a rifle and later skinned and beheaded, TIME reported.
Cecil was reportedly baited and lured away from the park site at the time of his death.
“The 13-year-old lion was wearing a GPS collar as part of a research project that Oxford University has been running since 1999, making it possible to trace its last movements when it was tricked into leaving the park and shot with a bow and arrow,” The Guardian reported. “The Oxford University study was looking into the impact of sports hunting on lions living in the safari area surrounding the national park.”
The trophy hunter is said to be a Spaniard and acted with two accomplices, both of whom have been arrested.
From 2007 to 2012, Spain imported 450 lion heads as trophies from the African safari, Luis Munoz, spokesman for the Spanish anti-lion poaching and conservation group, Chelui4lions, told TIME.
Despite being lured away from protective land, wildlife conservationists are outraged by the killing.
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority are meeting with stakeholders to find a resolution to the brutal killing of the safari’s most popular attractions.
“In my personal capacity as CEO of the African Bush Camps group of companies I strongly object and vehemently disagree with the legalising and practice of hunting lions in any given area,” African Bush Camp founder Beks Ndlovu said in a press release. “I will personally be encouraging Zimbabwe National Parks and engaging with Government Officials to STOP THE KILLING of LIONS and with immediate effect.”
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