The charges against the hunter accused of helping a Minnesota dentist kill Cecil the Lion last year have been dropped by a Zimbabwean court.
Hunting enthusiast Walter Palmer reportedly paid $54,000 to kill Cecil, a locally beloved lion that mostly lived on a preserve at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, as part of a trophy hunt in July 2015. The killing sparked international outrage, and the media attention forced Palmer to temporarily close his Minnesota dental practice.
Palmer was not charged by Zimbabwe’s government, as he was legally authorized to conduct the hunt. However, local hunter Theo Bronkhorst was accused of illegal poaching by laying bait to lead Cecil out of the park’s confines and charged with failing to prevent an unlawful hunt, Reuters reports.
The charges against Bronkhorst were dropped Friday after a higher court agreed that the hunt wasn’t illegal because Palmer had a permit to hunt, according to Reuters. "The court granted us that prayer yesterday—that the charges be quashed. So I cannot imagine the state coming back again charging him with the same charge," Bronkhorst's lawyer Lovemore Muvhiringi told Reuters.