Zimbabwe ‘failed to protect lion from vandals’

Zimbabweans failed in their responsibility to protect a popular lion named Cecil that was killed by an American in an allegedly illegal hunt, President Robert Mugabe said yesterday.

In his first public comments about the lion, Mugabe said Zimbabweans should protect their natural resources from what he called foreign vandals.

“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 a televised speech marking Heroes’ Day, a national holiday honouring fighters who died in the war to end white minority rule.

“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,” Mugabe said.

“All this wildlife is yours, we should protect them,” he said. “They should not be shot by a gun, it’s a sin. Or an arrow. I was stopped from killing animals with an arrow when I was seven or eight years old. I was told: ‘These are God’s creatures’.”

Zimbabwe has a legal hunting industry, though wildlife officials said James Walter Palmer, the American who killed Cecil, did not have authorisation for the hunt. A Zimbabwean minister has called for Palmer’s extradition.


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