Midland hunter provides insight on Zimbabwean lion death

Midland hunter provides insight on Zimbabwean lion death

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Protest and outrage grows over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe.

A dentist from the U.S. is accused of illegally killing the lion, and tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Dr. Walter Palmer to be prosecuted.

News Leader 9 talked with experienced archery hunter Brannon Wilkinson from Midland to get his perspective on the killing of this animal.

While we don't know all the details just yet on how the killing of the lion actually happened, Wilkinson says the dentist should not be the only one to blame if something did go wrong, because every American is supposed to have a professional hunter to guide them along with the hunt.

Wilkinson is an avid archery hunter with years of experience hunting wild animals in the safari of south Africa and other parts of the world.

"It provides meat for the villages that are poverty-stricken, it also provides money for the economy which is in horrible shape. So the money that the Americans bring over and pay to do this hunt goes back into their communities," said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson says there is nothing wrong with hunting and killing an animal as long as it's done legally and ethically. The American dentist is catching a lot of heat for hunting and killing the well-known Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe with a bow and arrow.

The dentist, identified by authorities as Walter Palmer of Minnesota, reportedly illegally paid $50,000 for a pro hunter also known as an outfitter to help with the process.

"So your life and everything else is in his hands. He picks you up from the airport, transport you to the hunting lodge, goes with you when you go out to hunt," said Wilkinson.

The lion was part of a national park in the country and it's believed the doctor and his professional hunter lured Cecil from the park. While Wilkinson says he is not taking sides as a hunter, he gave some insight into what could have happened.
"They were not trying to lure a lion off the preserve, they were trying to lure and lion to their hunting spot. They way you hunt wild cats you have to be safe and get into a hide because they can come from anywhere. Could they have seen a collar, no way. It was at night and lions have huge manes so if he had a collar on there no way they would have seen it," added Wilkerson.

Zimbabwean authorities want the dentist returned to their country to face charges.

Archery Connection in Phenix City says they see people from all over who uses hunting and archery as a sport for fun. They provide archery lessons to make sure it's done properly and safely.

Officials in Zimbabwe says they have already started the process of getting the dentist extradited back to the country to face poaching charges. His whereabouts are unknown. The two guides who were with him were arrested.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.