Zimbabwe has accused an American doctor of illegally killing a lion. Jan Casimir Seski is the second American to face such accusations in a week. Officials say Mr. Seski used a bow-and-arrow to kill a lion near Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park last April. The organizer of the hunt, landowner Headman Sibanda, has been arrested in the case. Zimbabwe has suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the area.
Last week, news of the killing of a rare, black-maned lion named Cecil fueled anger on social media. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, is accused of killing the well-known animal.
In a statement July 28, the dentist said he believed he was acting legally when he killed Cecil on July 1. Doctor Palmer said he used professional guides and got all the required permits for the hunt.
His guide, Theo Bronkhorst, will go on trial in Zimbabwe Wednesday. He is charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt. He has pleaded not guilty. He also denies reports that they lured the wounded Cecil out of Hwange and killed him with a gun. The French news agency AFP reported his comments.
The hunting industry is hugely profitable in some African countries. In South Africa, for example, the industry earns hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Jack Hanna is a well-respected expert on wild animals and formerly served as director of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio. Appearing on ABC television, he said the lion population has dropped a lot over the past 70 years.
"In 1947, when I was born, there were about 450,000 lions (worldwide). In the mid-1970s, when my kids were born, there were about 100,000. Today, there are less than 30,000."
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service said it is investigating the Palmer case. Comments continue to flood the Twitter hashtag #CecilLion. Walter Palmer has not been seen in public since the story of Cecil’s death was reported last week. His office in Minnesota is closed. Some reports say he has received death threats.
In New York City, images of endangered animals and Cecil the lion were projected onto the Empire State Building last Saturday. The pictures covered 33 floors of the famous building. It was part of an advertisement for the documentary film “Racing to Extinction.”
Organizers said it was a first of its kind. They are hoping to get people to talk about endangered wildlife.
In Washington, the Obama administration said it has received more than 220,000 signatures by Americans who want Walter Palmer sent to Zimbabwe for trail.
Last Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner would not discuss Zimbabwe’s request for Dr. Palmer. But in explaining the extradition process, Mr. Toner said that such a request goes to the U.S. State Department. State then works closely with the Justice Department to decide if the request meets any treaty requirements. Mr. Toner said the final decision rests with Secretary of State John Kerry. He added that humanitarian concerns and whether a person will receive a fair trial may be considered.
“The Department of Justice then presents the request to a US court that determines whether the individual is extraditable. After those judicial proceedings have been completed, it’s the secretary of state who makes the final decision on whether to extradite an individual to another country. And, obviously,
Jens David Ohlin is a professor at Cornell University Law School in New York. He says Doctor Palmer could be extraditable if his suspected actions in Zimbabwe can also be considered a crime in the United States. He adds that the crime needs to be punishable by at least one year in prison.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has proposed a bill called Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large, or CECIL, Animal Trophies Act. It would expand import bans to include animals that are proposed for listing as threatened or endangered. That would also cover those species already considered endangered.
I’m Anne Ball.
VOA’s Victor Beattie wrote this story. Anne Ball adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
extradite –v. to send a person who has been accused of a crime to another state or country for trial
pleaded –v. to say in court that you are either guilty or not guilty of a crime, to make a plea
lured –v. to cause or persuade a person, or an animal, to go somewhere or to do something by offering some pleasure or gain
predator –n. an animal (or person) that kills and eats other animals, an animal that preys on other animals