Just as the Harambe memes appear to be dying down, more news is set to rile-up conservationists and Internet users fond of shot animals, with charges against one of Cecil the Lion’s hunters being thrown out of court.
A Zimbabwean court has now dropped charges against Theo Bronkhorst, a local hunter who helped US dentist Walter Palmer kill the rare animal, after ruling they were “too vague,” BBC News reports.
Palmer stirred up controversy with conservationists in July last year when he shot Cecil the Lion just outside the boundaries of the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
After the shooting, Zimbabwe said Palmer had all the correct paperwork and permits to kill the lion. The dentist was not charged with any crime and is still free to visit Zimbabwe, although he is not allowed to hunt there.
Bronkhorst, however, was accused of leading the lion out of the park, whereby they could then shoot the animal free of the laws. The whole ordeal triggered outrage on social media, sparked a global conservation on the ethics of trophy hunting, and spawned a lot of parody Twitter accounts.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the US, said the killing of Cecil was “a defining moment” and “changed the atmospherics on the issue of trophy hunting around the world.”
Cecil was part of a wildlife conservation research project for the University of Oxford. He was also a favorite of tourists, known for his distinctive black-tipped mane and calm temperament.