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PRETORIA, July 31. /TASS/. The American hunter who illegally killed Zimbabwe’s famous lion Cecil should be extradited to the African country, its environment minister demanded on Friday.
Dentist Walter Palmer, 55, allegedly paid more than $50,000 to Zimbabwean guides who helped him track and shoot the 13-year-old animal. He later claimed he believed his guides had legal hunting permits.
"We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action," minister Oppah Muchinguri said.
Cecil was one of the world's most recognizable felines for his rare black mane and was the star attraction for thousands of tourists visiting Zimbawe’s Hwange national park. The lion’s murder has caused massive public outcry across the globe.
Palmer’s guides have been arrested on poaching charges and face up to 15 years' jail if convicted. The hunter managed to return to the United States and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
A petition to the White House calling for Palmer's extradition has gathered more than 100,000 signatures in just one day.