Theo Bronkhorst: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Theo Bronkorst

Professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst leaves the Magistrate’s Court in Hwange on July 29, 2015. (Getty)

A professional hunter is facing criminal charges in Zimbabwe in the death of a beloved lion.

Cecil the lion was found beheaded and skinned outside the Hwange national park in early July. The hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, of Bushman Safaris, was charged by police in Victoria Falls after officials said they determined the hunt was illegal.

A Minnesota dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer, is accused of paying $50,000 for the hunt, and may have killed the famed lion. But a spokesperson for Palmer said the 55-year-old big game hunter did nothing illegal.

“What he’ll tell you is that he had the proper legal permits and he had hired several professional guides, so he’s not denying that he may be the person who shot this lion. He is a big-game hunter; he hunts the world over,” Palmer’s spokesman told The Guardian in a statement.

Bronkhorst appeared in court on Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Officials Say Bronkhorst Had No Permit to Justify the Killing of Cecil

Cecil the lion, walter palmer

Walter Palmer is accused of killing “Cecil the lion” in Zimbabwe. Cecil was found headless and skinless on the outskirts of the park. (YouTube)

Cecil the lion was killed on Antionette farm in Gwayi Conservancy in the Hwange district, the Zimbwabe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said.

“They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” Johnny Rodrigues, a spokesman for the Zimbwabe Conservation Task Force, told The Guardian. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park.”

Rodrigues said Palmer first shot Cecil with a crossbow, but it did not kill him. They then “tracked him down and found him 40 hours later” and shot him with a rifle, Rodrigues said.

Theo Bronkhorst, the founder of Bushman Safaris, was charged on Monday by police in Victoria Falls for the allegedly illegal slaying of Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who was collared and being tracked by Oxford University since 1999 and was well known in Zimbabwe.

Theo Bronkhorst, Walter palmer, zane bronkhorst

A photo from the Bushman Safaris’ Facebook page. The company’s founder, Theo Bronkhorst, is facing charges. (Facebook)

“Ongoing investigations to date, suggest that the killing of the lion was illegal since the land owner was not allocated a lion on his hunting quota for 2015,” the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement. “Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management as the Regulatory Authority and custodian of all wild animals in Zimbabwe issues hunting permits and hunting quota for all hunting areas in Zimbabwe so that only animals on quota are to be hunted. In this case, both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt.”

Bronkhorst denies the charges.

“It was a magnificent, mature lion. We did not know it was well-known lion,” he told The Telegraph newspaper. “I had a licence for my client to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow in the area where it was shot.

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2. He Runs the Safari Company With His Wife & Sons

Zane Bronkhorst, Theo Bronkhorst, Walter Palmer, Cecil the Lion hunted dead killed zimbwabe

Zane Bronkhorst is also a professional hunter and is being investigated by officials in Zimbabwe. (Facebook)

Theo Bronkhorst runs the hunting company with his family. His son, Zane Bronkhorst, is also a professional hunter and is suspected of being involved in the hunt. Authorities are attempting to interview him.

Bushman Safaris is a “family run safari outfit in Zimbabwe” that was founded in 1992 by Theo Bronkhorst, according to its Facebook page.

“Today with sons Zane and Jason and wife Michele we are fully established and have concessions in the north of Zimbabwe close to Victoria Falls conducting great big game safaris such as buffalo, elephant etc. We also have our own really successful hound pack with years of experience and lots of great leopard taken and being the only local houndsmen in the country.”

Several people have posted angry comments to the Bushman Safaris page. In a July 1 post, prior to the lion hunt, Bushman Safaris said, “Thanks to all who like our page.Understanding how we as hunters do far more for conservation of our wildlife than anti hunters whom probably almost 100% have never even seen or been around our wildlife.Thank you and be proud to be hunters or understanding what we do.”

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3. The Owner of the Land Where Cecil Was Killed Is Also Facing Charges

Honest Ndlovu, Honest Trymore Ndlovu

Zimbabwean local landowner Honest Ndlovu arrives at the Prosecutor’s office at the Magistrate’s Court in Hwange on July 29, 2015. (Getty)

The land owner of the private Antoinette farm, Honest Trymore Ndlovu, is also facing charges.

Ndlovu’s land borders the national park. He also appeared in court on Wednesday.

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4. Palmer Is a Practicing Dentist Who Travels Around the World to Hunt Big Game

Walter Palmer, Minnesota dentist hunter, walter palmer dentist, walter palmer minnesota

Walter Palmer, left, is pictured with a dead lion in 2008, that is not Cecil. (Trophy Hunt America)

Palmer, 55, is a dentist from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with a practice in Bloomington, near Minneapolis. He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he plans to dispute some of what is being said later Tuesday.

“Obviously, some things are being misreported,” he said.

He has hunted big game all over the world, according to what his spokesperson told The Guardian and photos posted online from previous hunts. Several photos showing him with dead big game animals, including a leopard, rhino and elk, were posted to the website “Trophy Hunt America.”

An album of photos on Smugmug called “Safari Connection” shows Palmer with a different dead lion in 2008.

Palmer was profiled in 2009 by the New York Times after he killed a trophy elk in California.

Palmer told the Times that he paid $45,000 to hunt at the elk habitat in 2009 and killed it with a bow and arrow. He learned how to hunt at 5.

“I don’t have a golf game,” Palmer told the Times.

He also faced potential prison time in 2008 for lying to a federal agent about where he killed a bear in Wisconsin. He was later sentenced to probation.

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Walter Palmer, a dentist and big game hunter from Minnesota, is accused of paying $55,000 to slay Cecil, a famed lion, in Zimbabwe in an illegal hunt.

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5. Cecil’s Cubs Will Likely be Killed by Another Lion

“He never bothered anybody,” Johnny Rodrigues, of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Telegraph about Cecil. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”

The conservation task force said Cecil had several cubs.

“The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females,” the task force said.

“That’s how it works… it’s in the wild; it’s nature taking its course,” Rodrigues told the BBC.

Walter Palmer: Photos of Cecil the Lion Hunter

Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minneapolis, allegedly bribed park officials at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe to hunt Cecil the lion. See his other big game photos here.

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  1. Having also read a much longer statement by Bronkhorst elsewhere, it sounds to me as if this was due to a series of errors. All the men were trying to follow the law. They had obtained permits. Bronkhorst was just making a living and Palmer was following the instructions of Bronkhorst, whom he had hired. Zimbabwe will try to extract as much cash as possible from these men. Palmer should try to negotiate the fine without going back. If I were he I would use every legal means to avoid getting extradited back there. The United States should help resolve this in such a way that he pays only fines and community service. No good will be done by having him rot in a Zimbabwe jail. It’s likely he would die there. Bronkhorst should also get off with fines. He probably should find another line of business if he can. We should all ignore the howling mob lusting for his blood. They are after vengeance not justice.

    • No, they tried to lure the lion out of the park to another place to kill. That’s wrong already! And honestly, u are the type of people who thinks money can buy everything. No, fines do not work here dude.

    • If all he gets in a fine, how is that a deterrant for other trophy hunters to do the same thing. If letting him rot in a Zimbabwean jail will stop even one trophy hunters from persevering with this sick hobby, then it will be worth it. I can’t believe anyone would think the life of an endangered species can be trivialised by paying a stupid fine and community service. Idiot.

    • What world are you living in. They both need to do time in jail for them to have time to think of the disgusting actions they call sport. They are nothing but savages depleting all the wildlife of the world. The manner of this murder was extremely cruel and why should they get away with murder. Extradite Palmer and jail him as an example to others. They all knew exactly what they were doing when they lured Secil out of his area, they are disgusting people.

    • Is called triangulation: “oh I didn’t know, I depended on the guide and I paid $55,000.
      Not my responsibility !” You hear this too often by people who pull the trigger!
      All lives matter !
      Read and listen to the methodology of the hunt and what Palmer and his guides did to the lion. Don’t bury your head in the sand and feel that you can get away with paying fines! This guy did that when he got caught in Wisconsin with the dead Blackbeard.
      Palmer is a predator even with his dental assistant! Look at the pictures, read the discoveries.
      Only man is capable of such cruelty !
      You’re a bonehead if you think paying fees is the solution!

    • Hmmmm…Sigmund the troll sounds like a family member or friend of Dr Palmer. How about you tell us who you really are. Go face the crowds at Palmer’s office if you are feeling brave!

    • Hmmm…Sigmund the troll sounds like a friend of family member of Dr. Palmer. If you are feeling so brave, why don’t you go and share your views with the people protesting outside of Palmer’s office. Let’s hope that no one there has a bow and arrow…for Sigmund’s sake!

    • Bullshit. Everyone within many miles knew this lion, and it was therefore a “special” trophy for Palmer. Brink hurst is a liar who had no authority to take a lion, much less lure one out of the park. You must be hid agent or relative to justify such outrageous disregard for the law as well as wildlife. there were no errors, just greed and opportunism, and they got caught because of the collar.

  2. Really? All that write up against the two white guys, but only one sentence for the black individual charged? Unreal. I hope Zimbabwe isn’t as racist when treating illegal activity equally as this author is.

    • The white guys are 99pt responsible for this killing. With a long history of animal killings. How much do you want to know about the black guy that owned the land? Stupid…

  3. These men LURED the animal out of the sanctuary. There is NO Justification for the kill. An example needs to be made.

  4. Bronkhorst and family are criminals, and they work for the organized crime poaching gang known as Safari Club International.

    Bronkhorst would take money to help these idiots hunt humans if they thought they could get away with it.

  5. The truth that the media don’t report
    Many of you have read or heard the news of the collared lion that has been shot here in Africa. Greg and I are in Zimbabwe, hunting with clients, at the camp of the very man that is being accused of “slaughtering a protected lion”.
    I would just like to clarify a few facts. Firstly, yes, the lion was collared but that does not mean protected the hunting concession we are on borders the park– no fences, no gates, no wires. These animals are free to roam and cross into the areas surrounding the park at will. It is a given that when any animal is out of the designated boundaries of the park and in a hunting concession, it is fair game. Collared animals are shot by hunters once in a while and the law states that nothing has been done illegally, just that the collar is to be returned to the National Parks office.
    Secondly, this lion was not lured out of the park by guts being dragged or calls being made. There was an elephant carcass, that died of natural causes, 2 1/2 km out of the parks boundary. The Professional Hunter (PH) and his hunter had seen a lion on the carcass so set up a blind to hunt that evening. The collared lion was the one that came in. No one realized the animal was collared until after it was harvested. The collar was returned to Parks, as is the procedure. It is unfortunate that this lion is a frequently photographed one in the parks as I believe that is why it has made national news. That, and the fact that it has a name….. Cecil.
    Theo Bronkhorst has been threatened and dragged over the coals on this one. His family is being harassed and the Facebook comments have been horrendous. Our own fb page has had a few. One in particular. “let me guess…this fed a village”.
    Here’s where I’d like to explain something. Feeding the village is a phrase that is always taken in the literal sense. Yes, the meat of any animal is shared with the people but it’s more than that. Here’s how it works.
    Every hunting concession has a native game scout appointed. This scout must accompany the PH and his hunters to be sure that nothing is shot that is not on quota…..quota meaning that only so many of one species can be taken during the year. This is recorded very officially in a ledger. Every animal has a trophy fee. This is divided up to the outfitter, the village and the government. The village gets their share of the meat. Now this is where Theo makes a difference. With the money, he has helped the people dig wells, pipe water and supplied tanks to their houses so they don’t have to walk long distances to carry it. They have larger gardens now because of it, not to mention running water. He has built schools. He’s helped put in solar panels so they have power. I have seen satellite dishes on some homes so I know they have tv. It is all this that is included in the phrase ‘ feed the village’.
    I believe so many people do not understand hunting. They only see killing. Without hunting there is no conservation. Theo and his family are conservationists. They are not poachers. Everything done in the taking of this lion was done with professionalism. The hunter was legally licensed, the outfitter/PH, Theo, was licensed to legally hunt in that area. The lion had a GPS collar and if anyone is to blame, it should be the authorities who’s job was to track him.
    It is disgusting to me how there is so much to-do about this one lion but nothing is said about the man who was killed just 2 nights ago by an elephant in the village of the scout who rides in the truck with us everyday. A human life was taken and it is not mentioned. We should be more concerned about Masugo and his family than Cecil. It is unfair that no one feels sorry for Masugo….nor for the hunter and PH that have been falsely accused of a crime they did not commit.
    Please share this with as many people as you can so the real story also gets revealed. It surprises us that organizations like Dallas Club and Safari Club International (SCI), who’s slogan is ‘first for hunters’, have not become involved to investigate and stand behind a fellow hunter. Let us all, as hunters, stand together.

    • You must be very naive if you actually believe what you have written. Is this what Bronkhorst told you? To sum it up :” Cecil was given to Palmer like a pizza” according to Brent Stapelkamp who tracked him for all these years. This is no faIr hunt. I suggest you read Jane Goodall’s article on lions as well as John Varty’s open letter to Bronkhorst.

    • Why the hell don’t you join a war??? Because you hunters are frigging cowards!!!! Much easier to murder a magnificent animal. You are lazy as well and for that reason you do not look for a decent job. We are delighted that the elephant killed that savage!!!!I wish it happened more often Don’t dare pretend that murdering an innocent creature helps the village because you are talking absolutely trash!!! People will learn to feed themselves. They can plant vegetables and fruit. There are so many charities helping these people please do not insult everyone with that jargon. At the end of the day – plain and simple – hunters are brutal savages. Whether or not the people of a country has or hasn’t food or water, you will still kill innocent creatures because you can’t help yourself!

  6. Any person or people associated with killing these beautiful animals for no apparent reason are pure evil. They should be shot!

  7. Wonder what it’s like, going to bed at night and knowing that half the humans on the planet hope you don’t wake up.

  8. I really can’t believe what I am reading in the comments. Sigmund what you are basically saying is that you think these two bastards should get off free???? Really??? Firstly hunting of an innocent beautiful creature by some barbaric savages is not ok. These are weak depraved pathetic humans. They are not brave in any way or they would join a war anywhere they choose and they could get rid of their frustrations and blood lust there, obviously if they don’t get shot first. At least the odds would be even! Seems like his family also have this blood lust in them. Too lazy to get real jobs!