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Ministers call for end to "barbaric hunting" after Cecil the lion killed

Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/AP)
Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/AP)
Protesters gather outside Dr Walter Palmer's dental surgery in the US (AP)

The death of Cecil the lion has prompted UK ministers to write to the Zimbabwean government to offer help in protecting threatened species.

Africa Minister Grant Shapps described the killing as an "appalling end to a wildlife icon" and called for governments on the continent to "end such barbaric hunting".

His comments came as Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK played a leading role in preventing the illegal wildlife trade.

In a letter to Zimbabwe's environment minister Oppah Munchinguri, Mr Shapps said: "I was distressed to read media reports about Cecil the lion being illegally killed by hunters in Zimbabwe earlier this month, as I am sure were you.

"It is clear that we share an ambition to secure the protection of threatened species, and in working towards an end to poaching and other illegal practices.

"I would welcome your thoughts on how we could work more closely together to help achieve our shared objectives on this issue."

Mr Cameron discussed the illegal wildlife trade with his counterpart in Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung during his tour of south-east Asia.

Asked about the case he said: "We play a leading role in preventing illegal wildlife trade.

"Actually last night with Premier Dung I was discussing exactly this issue because in Vietnam there has been a lot of demand for rhino horn.

"They hunted some of their own species to extinction and they have really taken on this agenda and they are going to be chairing a conference in 2016 just as we chaired the conference last year, which Prince Charles played a big role in.

"And I was talking about how we could help the Vietnamese with this in terms of preventing this trade, which is leading to the loss of so many vital species. "So we were actually discussing the issue of tiger bones, and rhino horn and the other things around the table last night."

American dentist Walter James Palmer allegedly paid 50,000 US dollars (£31,900) to track and shoot Cecil. Mr Palmer, from the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, said he was unaware the lion was protected, relying on local guides to ensure a legal hunt.


From Belfast Telegraph