Theo Bronkhorst, the man who led Cecil the Lion killer Walter Palmer for the controversial hunt, now faces charges alone. In his belief, his only mistake was leading Palmer’s group to a famous lion, saying that there are many collared lions shot every year.
Luck got the better of him when he led Palmer to the rare black-maned Cecil, an emotional Bronkhorst told CBS News. In tears, Bronkhorst said he believes he is the fall guy in the case that sparked global outrage.
During the height of the world’s outrage about Cecil’s killing, Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s environment minister, called for Palmer’s extradition as a foreign poacher. She said in July that Palmer’s use of bow and arrow violated the contravention of Zimbabwean law. “One can conclude with confidence that Dr. Palmer had a well-orchestrated agenda which would tarnish the image of Zimbabwe and further strain the relationship between Zimbabwe and the USA,” the mister was quoted as saying in July by The Telegraph.
By August, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe had cast the blame to the people of Zimbabwe for allowing Palmer to kill Cecil. Mr. Mugabe said the Zimbabweans failed to protect a national resource from foreign vandals.
Just two weeks ago, The Telegraph reported that Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, was quoted as saying for Palmer to be left alone. “He was not to blame. The people of Zimbabwe who allowed him to kill the lion are to blame,” the first lady was quoted as saying.
As reported by the Morning News USA on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe government has dropped all charges against Palmer. This time, the country’s environment ministry said that Palmer had all the valid paperwork when he went on his controversial hunt in July. The minister had even invited him back to Zimbabwe as tourist.
According to unnamed source, who has spoken with The Telegraph, the government may have overacted to the international outrage it got back then. But it had since calmed down, hence dropping charges against Palmer.
Speaking with CBS News, Brent Staplekamp, a member of the group who collared Cecil, said he was initially hopeful that the global outrage on Cecil The Lion killing will set precedent for other poachers. However, he was surprised that the charges were dropped.
“I really thought this was going to be an example to other people who have done this before or who would do it in the future, so very disappointed that we are not going to see justice,” Staplekamp told CBS.
Bronkhorst broke down while speaking after appearing before a judge in Zimbabwe on Thursday. His case hearing was postponed again for next week, as if it was not enough that his life and his family had been ruined by the charges upon him. “Well, it’s destroyed us, it’s destroyed the family, my business. You know, we employ a lot of people, and they are on half-time now. I guess each family is supporting six or more dependents,” he emotionally said.