When news of Cecil the Lion’s death and beheading hit the internet, the reaction was swift and severe. Dentist Walter Palmer was given the doxx of all doxxes with a few casual assassination threats thrown in. Even if your personal reaction wasn’t quite so harsh, it’s safe to say that if you had had an appointment at River Bluff Dental this week, it’ll be postponed. Your panicked, last-minute flossing can wait.
The comments on the various Uproxx posts have taken a hard stance, which was neatly summed up by Jimmy Kimmel, “If you’re some A-hole dentist who wants a lion’s head over the fireplace in his man cave so that his douchebag buddies can gather around it and drink scotch and tell him how awesome he is, that’s just vomitous.”
But here’s the rub for those frothing with anger: Palmer probably isn’t a “poacher.” He was using a well-known outfitter that he may very well have assumed was acting completely legally. It was definitely not very sportsmanlike to lure an apex predator out of a protected habitat, shoot it with a crossbow, then decapitate it, but those techniques are par for the course.
Will Palmer serve jail time? Highly doubtful. Not unless he made bribes or it can be proven that he knew his guide was breaking the law. The case against Theo Bronkhorst of Bushmen Safaris and landowner Honest Trymore Ndlovu isn’t about their techniques, not even the bit where they tried to destroy Cecil’s transponder. It’s centered on whether or not the duo had the required permits. Assuming they didn’t, it’s surely possible that Palmer was duped. All accounts agree that he paid the advertised rate for his hunt ($55,000), so if we’re playing the “educated guess” game, this very well may indicate that he anticipated it being legal. It’s hard to envision a hunter risking indictment and paying full price.