On Friday, the hunter became the hunted.
America’s most reviled dentist, Dr. Walter James Palmer, disappeared this week after news broke of his involvement in the hunting death of a beloved Zimbabwean lion named Cecil. At first, it was just the outraged public looking for him; then, later in the week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Zimbabwe’s environment minister Oppah Muchinguri announced the action Friday at a press conference, saying, “We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be held accountable for his illegal action.”
(Two Zimbabwean guides involved in the hunt were arrested earlier this week for illegal poaching, and Muchinguri said the Prosecutor General has started the process to bring Palmer back to Zimbabwe to face similar charges.)
Investigators for the service have knocked on the front door of Palmer’s house, stopped by his dental office, called his telephone numbers and filled his inbox with e-mails.
“I’m sure he knows” the government is looking for him, Ed Grace, chief of law enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told The Washington Post on Thursday. “We’ve made repeated attempts to try and get in contact with him.”
Not that you can blame him? Activists have been planning his death since he admitted, essentially, that, Yes, I slaughtered, skinned and beheaded that famous lion for sport but I thought it was legal. (The preferred methodology differs depending on who you ask—internet users would like to see him hunted with his own weapons, PETA has called for him to be hanged.)
But in a letter emailed to patients Tuesday, Palmer indicated he would cooperate with authorities if and when they requested his extradition.
That statement, one might conclude, was a lie.