• World
  • Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe Says Zimbabweans To Blame for Cecil the Lion’s Death

2 minute read

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe spoke publicly for the first time about Cecil the lion on Monday, suggesting that Zimbabwean citizens were to blame for the beloved animal’s death.

“Cecil the lion was yours, and you failed to protect him,” Mugabe said in his annual speech on Heroes Day, the Washington Post reports. After the lion’s shooting sparked international outrage, his killer, Walter J. Palmer, said he was unaware that the animal was lured off its sanctuary and blamed his guides for causing Cecil’s death.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt,” Palmer said in a statement. “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”

Mugabe called big-game hunting in Zimbabwe a “sin,” though it is unknown if he plans to change the country’s laws that allow hunters to go after lions, leopards, elephants and other animals. Zimbabwe lifted its hunting ban on the area where Cecil was killed after only 10 days.

While hunting is a lucrative revenue source for Zimbabwe, critics say most of that money ends up in the private hands of Mugabe’s political allies and that his inclusion of Cecil in his speech was meant to divert attention from issues of unemployment and Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

“We were given a rich inheritance,” said Mugabe during the conclusion of his speech. “Of course, they may bite, but they are ours.”

[Washington Post]

Save the Animals: David Chancellor's Powerful Photographs of Conservation Efforts

DC 081.55 001 elephant, ol pejeta conservancy, northern kenya-fr
An elephant collaring team watches as an elephant recovers from a tranquilizing dart. The future of wildlife in northern Kenya will require support and engagement from local communities allowing the safe migration of wildlife along centuries-old routes, across tribal lands. Once fitted with a satellite tracking collar the elephant's progress can be monitored.David Chancellor—INSTITUTE
DC 258.46 001 darting elephant, ol pejeta conservancy, northern
A Kenya Wildlife service vet tranquillizes a problem elephant from a helicopter, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Northern Kenya. The elephant was one of several that had taken to breaking fences and was coming into conflict with local farmers.David Chancellor—INSTITUTE
DC 050.52 001 elephant relocation # I, ol pejeta conservancy, no
Wildlife rangers prepare to relocate an elephant from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to Meru National Park. Elephants discover quite quickly that their tusks do not conduct electricity, and that if they curl up their trunks they can quite happily break down electric fences that protect farms.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 263.41 001 elephant relocation # VI, ol pejeta conservancy, n
A tranquillized elephant is secured to a truck by rangers prior to be being transferred from Ol Pejeta Conservancy, northern Kenya, to Meru National Park. After repeatedly breaking down electric fences, it became necessary to move this elephant to an area far away from human settlement.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 029.41 001 elephant collar, sera conservancy, northern kenya-
An elephant satellite tracking collar is prepared by rangers at the Sera Community Conservancy in northern Kenya. The collar will be fitted to a lone bull elephant, supplying scientists with a detailed plan of his migration. It will also be used to monitor his well being as he travels through areas rife with poaching.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 047.49 001 elephant relocation # VII, ol pejeta conservancy,
Wildlife rangers prepare to relocate a troublesome elephant from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to Meru National Park in northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 4946.41 001 samburu moran # V, west gate community conservanc
A Samburu moran prepares to construct a boma out of thorn bushes in which his cattle will spend the night safe from predators. The Samburu live in the northern highlands of Kenya; they are the country’s largest land occupiers and yet number few in a country of tens of millions. Fierce pastoralists, they saw no value in having wildlife on their lands because they believed it belonged to the government and was, therefore, of no benefit to them; cattle were allowed to graze everywhere, seriously degrading the grasslands. Under the stewardship of the Northern Rangelands Trust, the Samburu are learning to regenerate their lands and live alongside the wildlife.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 077.53 001 untitled, westgate community conservancy, northern
At dawn, Samburu Moran warriors take a camel to slaughter.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 001.53 001 samburu moran # I, sasaab village, westgate commun
Prior to attending Imuget le nkarna (a celebration of 10 years as a warrior) Samburu Moran apply red ochre to their bodies. The Samburu are know as the "butterfly people" by other warrior tribes because of the bright colours they dress in, and flamboyant body adornments.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 091.49 001 lmuget le nkarna # XIX, sasaab village, westgate c
A samburu moran drinks the blood from the neck of a fresh slaughtered cow. A Samburu is a warrior for 13 years, during which time he lives completely in the bush with his cattle, drinking blood from the cows, milk, and occasionally water, and eating meat.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 067.55 001 lmuget le nkarna # XXVI, sasaab village, westgate
Traditionally a moran carries little more than a spear, a knife and a plastic five-litre oil container, which is used as a container for water, milk, and as a pillow to keep his headdress off the ground while sleeping. Now with the huge influx of weapons from neighboring Somalia they will often carry an illegal G3 rifle or similar, with which they will protect their cattle from raiders, and raid other tribes for their cattle.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 063.52 001 lmuget le nkarna # XXII, sasaab village, westgate
Samburu moran take the meat that has been cut from slaughtered cows and hang it over a central tree. It will be cooked over open fires and placed on the ground under the same tree, from where it will be eaten by the warriors. This is one of the few occasions that the Moran will get to feast on meat during their time as warriors. From this point on (10 years as warriors), they are permitted to take wives. The Samburu have an ancient connection to elephants: they require elephant dung to marry and consider them sacred. Any Samburu that kills an elephant brings a curse (called "alanna") upon his family. Despite this, and with the incredible amount of money being offered, some Moran are now becoming poachers on lands where elephants would previously have been protected by tradition alone.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 205.50 001 leopard and rangers, kisimi, northern kenya-from t
A leopard caught and killed in a poachers' snare is removed by conservancy rangers.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 139.48 001 lioness # III, lewa conservancy, northern kenya-fr
A veterinarian treats a lioness for an eye infection, Lewa Conservancy, Northern Kenya. The dual use of wildlife and livestock by communities in these remote areas of northern Kenya spreads the economic and financial risk, reduces vulnerability to droughts, and increases food security, it does however also increase the possibility of human-wildlife conflict which results in the necessity to also manage the wildlife itself. Wildlife can be used to generate the capital needed to help communities improve their welfare and bring peace, giving them a clear financial stake in preserving wildlife rather than killing it.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 171.55 001 call sign 9.1, isiolo county, northern kenya-from
Call sign 9.2, Isiolo County, northern Kenya. ‘9.2’ is a mobile multi-ethnic anti poaching unit who can respond quickly and effectively to any given situation, not just poaching, across all of the Northern Rangelands Community Conservancies, without fear of tribal conflict. They live in the bush for 26 days of each month, returning to base to rest and re-equip for the remaining four days of each month. David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 217.50 001 black rhino, forest area, lewa conservancy, northe
A sedated black rhino is ear notched for identification purposes, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 4761.45 001 rhino # IV, killed by poachers, lewa conservancy,
A conservancy ranger removes the horn from a rhino that was killed by poachers who fled the scene on hearing the arrival of an airborne anti poaching team in the Lewa Conservancy, northern Kenya. When poachers flee without removing rhino horn, or elephant ivory, conservancy rangers, or Kenya Wildlife service are called upon to remove it, once removed it will be taken into custody by Kenya Wildlife Service and stored at its Nairobi Headquarters.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 041.41 001 capture team # II, black rhino, lewa conservancy,
A black rhino is relocated from Lewa Conservancy to a neighbouring conservancy as part of an ongoing program to reintroduce Black Rhino across the northern rangelands of Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 4922.49 001 surgery team and sedated black rhino, operating t
It was hoped that several black rhino who were born blind would benefit from cataract surgery and be released back in to the wild. This operation was unsuccessful.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 5000.50 001 surgery # II, black rhino, ol joggi conservancy,
A black rhino is lowered onto a surgeon's operating table at Ol Joggi Conservancy, northern Kenya.David Chancellor—INSTITUTE
DC 7509.45 001 orphan black rhino # II, lewa conservancy, kenya-
A black rhino calf orphaned by poachers is hand reared by a conservancy ranger. It’s hoped that it will be reintroduced into the wild once it is old enough to survive attacks from predators.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 002.49 001 hunters moon, northern kenya-from the series 'with
Poaching increases significantly during periods of full moon, also referred to as the "hunters moon" at Mpus Kutuk Community Conservancy, northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 128.50 001 poacher, dawn, lewa conservancy, northern kenya-fr
The body of a poacher killed in a shoot-out with conservancy rangers lies in the open bush at Lewa Conservancy, northern Kenya. It was later discovered that the poacher was responsible for the death of a rhino and its one-month-old calf. He was carrying supplies and ammunition for several days of poaching within the conservancy.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 072.49 001 elephants foot, northern kenya-from the series 'wi
An elephant's foot, northern Kenya. Elephant's feet are used as waste paper bins and umbrella stands.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 076.48 001 mortuary, nanyuki, northern kenya-from the series
The body of a farmer trampled to death by a rogue elephant at Naibunga Community Conservancy, northern Kenya, lies on a mortuary slab at the Nanyuki Mortuary. The irony is that as grazing management programs become more successful farmers move into areas previously only inhabited by wildlife, which results in an increase in human wildlife conflict. Here a farmer walking home in the evening was chased by an elephant, gored and trampled to death. The community demanded retribution. The elephant was hunted down by Kenya Wildlife services, shot, and its tusks removed and placed in the same safe store in Nairobi as those from poachers.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 033.50 001 poacher, isiolo, northern kenya-from the series 'w
A poacher is interrogated by members of KWS and the community conservancy anti poaching unit ‘9.2’. Part of a team intent on poaching, possibly the youngest and most inexperienced of the group, he was found by the teams blood hounds breathing through a reed, under the surface of a river. He will almost certainly spend a considerable amount of time in prison. The others escaped.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 4989.52 001 camouflage warrior # II, northern kenya-from the
Training conservancy rangers in the art of camouflage, Borana Ranch, northern Kenya. Ranger recruits are selected from applicants across all 27 conservancies and will form part of a multi-ethnic team once training is completed, at which time they will also receive weapons to replace sticks. David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 4976.43 001 lioness, northern kenya-from the series 'with but
Lioness, northern KenyaDavid Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 138.50 001 untitled # III, westgate community conservancy, no
A Kenyan Wildlife service officer puts down a mortally wounded elephant that was shot, but managed to escape from poachers, Westgate Community Conservancy, Northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 047.45 001 9.2, isiolo, northern kenya-from the series 'with
Members of "Call Sign 9.2" community conservancy anti-poaching unit at the scene of a poaching, Kalama Community Conservancy, Northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 158.48 001 grevy zebra, le parua conservancy, northern kenya-
A sedated Grevy’s zebra is fitted with a satellite transmitting collar at Lekurruki Community Conservancy, northern Kenya. Its movement will be monitored by scientists in the US. Over recent years the decline in the numbers of zebras -- 80% in the past three decades -- has been primarily due to poaching, killing for meat, and loss of access to critical resources due to competition with domestic livestock. David Chancellor —INSTITUTE
DC 3810.43 001 monitoring lion, lewa conservancy, northern kenya
Monitoring a lion's movements in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, northern Kenya.David Chancellor —INSTITUTE

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com