The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has provoked international outrage.
Two local men are due to appear before a court on poaching charges, accused of illegally luring the animal from a protected area so he could be hunted by a US dentist.
Although lions are not protected species in Zimbabwe, the men could be required to pay 20,000 dollars if convicted and may also be handed additional jail terms.
Dentist Dr Walter James Palmer allegedly wounded Cecil with a strike from a bow and arrow, tracked him for 40 hours and eventually fatally shot him with a hunting rifle.
Investigations show that the killing of Cecil was illegal because the land owner where he died was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015 – according to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Emmanuel Fundira, President of the Safari Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe says Palmer paid tens of thousands of dollars to hunt the animal.
“The proper market value for this lion, which is a big treasure, will be around 100,000 US dollars. Information so far received shows that there was money that was exchanged to the tune of 55,000 US dollars,” he told the press.
Thirteen-year-old Cecil was a popular attraction at the Hwange National Park and was the subject of an Oxford University research project.
The killing has prompted angry reactions on Palmer’s professional Facebook page and other social media.
A keen hunter, the dentist claims he thought the trip was completely legal.
He has expressed regret for the incident, claiming he didn’t realise until the end of the hunt that Cecil was a “known, local favourite.”