The Zimbabwean government has lifted a ban on big game hunting after just nine days. On August 2, more than a month after a popular male lion named Cecil was killed near Hwange National Park, the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority issued a moratorium on the hunting of all lions, leopards, and elephants outside of the park—effectively shutting down all hunting for those species in the country. Bow hunting was also restricted.

Little more than a week after the moratorium was issued however, wildlife officials decided to lift the hunting ban—but not without severe restrictions.

Currently all bow hunting and the harvest of lions, elephants, and leopards must receive direct approval from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Hunters going into the field for lions, elephants, and leopards must now be accompanied by park staff and pay for any expenses undertaken during the hunt. Several areas, including the farm where Cecil was killed, will still be off-limits.

“All players in the hunting industry are being reminded to familiarize themselves with the relevant statutes governing the wildlife industry,” officials urged strongly. “Further, the Authority would like to appeal to all members of the public that they should report any suspected illegal wildlife activities to the nearest offices of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Zimbabwe Republic Police and other Government law enforcement agencies.”

The wildlife agency confirmed that the changes were directly related to the international controversy surrounding the death of Cecil. The lion was killed on July 1 by an American tourist, Walter Palmer, in what was quickly denounced by the Zimbabwe government as an act of poaching. Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, was subsequently the target of numerous death threats, protests outside his office, and calls for extradition to Zimbabwe. Shortly before he went into hiding, Palmer asserted that he did not know of any wrongdoing during his trip and relied on his guide, Theo Bronkhorst, to obtain the proper licenses, which they did not have. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently in contact with Palmer and has not yet charged him with any crimes.

You can read more about Cecil the lion here.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of Palmer’s case, animal rights advocates have taken the opportunity to criticize big game hunting not only in Zimbabwe, but also the rest of Africa. Organizations like PETA even called for the execution of Palmer, despite Zimbabwe’s maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for lion poaching. Hunters and hunting organizations argued that it is unfair to group legal hunting together with poaching, which is widely regarded as unethical—and, of course, illegal. Big game hunters contribute millions of dollars towards conservation in African countries, supporting both local communities and protection for endangered species.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe recently discussed Cecil for the first time, calling foreign hunters “vandals.” Mugabe, a controversial figure who has served as president of Zimbabwe since 1987, also blamed citizens for their failure to protect Cecil from foreign hunters.

“All the natural resources are yours. Even Cecil the lion is yours. He is dead but yours to protect, and you failed to protect him,” Mugabe said in an address, which you can watch below. “There are vandals who come from all over. Some may be just ordinary visitors, but there are others who want to vandalise, to irregularly and illegally acquire part of those resources.”

You can see a portion of Mugabe’s speech here.

Mugabe added that he believed hunting is a sin.

Image screenshot of video by AFP news agency on YouTube

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  • Chuck Wagiom

    Ha! Zimbabwe closing hunting but then opens it again 9 days later? Yeah they realized that without hunters, they don’t have a tourist industry that brings in money. Idiots!

  • Big game hunting has been big business on the African continent for years. When hunters pay for the privilege to go on a government allowed hunting trip, the only person who should be accountable for the death of this animal is the guide. It is the guides job to be in the correct areas with the correct permits. This is just a media blitz to deflect attention away from real problems in the world and focus on a business some people don’t approve of.

  • Willy

    Mugabe got the word from his officials that the high dollar bribe money that outfitters are paying the government cronies was going to dry up and look what happens. The ban is lifted and they are welcoming hunters back into the country. As for the dentist, why is our government trying to charge him with something that happen in a foreign country. I am sure that the dentist believed that the hunt was legal. They should be going after the outfitter that allowed a protected animal to be taken but I am sure he is being protected by the officials that he bribed. Most of governments in these African countries are rife with corruption and Mugabe is probably afraid that if outsides start to look too hard into this issue they will find that some of this money is flowing into his pockets.

  • Dr. Bill Gammon

    The Zimbabwean people are wonderful people. The news media is really not seeing the true picture. There are dishonest people in the world who see money. The average Zimbabwean only makes less the $200.00 a year!!!!! The schools are run down, no resources for the teachers, kids walk to school barefoot with little school supplies. The AIDS crisis is really sad. Women walk to the hospital to have their babies hoping and praying that having birth in the hospital will give their child a chance. $50,000 for a lion, was big money for a dishonest person or group. Granted the dentist should have done his homework. No ones speaks about animal conservation going on in Zimbabwe. I have been to these areas. I hope Cecil’s death will awaken people to realize that the people of Zimbabwe need support and encouragement and aid, in this day and age we live in. Mugabe knows that tourism is a big part of his country. He too, sees the money.

  • Patty M.

    Whether they’re wealthy hunters or poachers it makes no difference to the being that ends up dead. Extinction is forever. What we do to them we do to ourselves. We are all energetically connected to each other in this vibrational Universe of energy. Humans are on the fast-track to extinction themselves if we don’t make some fundamental changes in how we view ourselves in relation to non-human beings. This book should be required reading for every human on the planet: “The World Peace Diet” by Will Tuttle Ph D.

  • jollyrogerf14

    Hunting wild animals is a sin? Ethnic cleansings are okay though? Why does anyone even listen to this guy. Am I the only person that thinks that there isn’t much difference between a “president” that has been president since the beginning, and a dictator? I guess I’m just a crazy conservative with an agenda or something…

  • NorthernMichiganBoy

    Let’s not get off track what MR Palmer did…I understand he was caught poaching a black bear in WI….If this is true, how would a person find out if so…Have you heard of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact…All states belonging to this Pact….ban a convicted poacher in hunting, fishing, etc in their state. I believe 90 some percent of all U.S. states belong to this. Just to good way to help stop these dirt bags…Maybe that is one reason why Palmer hunts out of the country.

  • Garydaranger

    President Mugabe is also catering to the anti’s. He actually had a baby elephant killed for his birthday celebration just this year according to other news sources.

  • I think all these safaris should be stopped,not because of hunting but because of the idiots running these country’s. The president says it is a sin to hunt, how many of their backwoods villages depend on hunting to survive? Stop all money going over there for any reason. PETA wants to murder someone for killing an animal , they are out and out crazy people like the ones that abort baby’s every day , no respect for human life.