Zimbabwe Hunter Behind Cecil Killing in Fresh Wildlife Charges

Zimbabwe Hunter Behind Cecil Killing in Fresh Wildlife Charges

File Photo: Cecil was killed in early July by American dentist Walter Palmer.

Beitbridge, Zimbabwe: The professional hunter who helped an American dentist kill Zimbabwe's popular lion Cecil appeared in court Tuesday on new charges of planning to smuggle sable antelope out of the country.

Theo Bronkhorst, 52, was initially arrested on Monday last week in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, after he was linked to a plot to smuggle 29 sable into neighbouring South Africa.

Prosecutors withdrew the charges when he appeared in court on Wednesday, his lawyer Perpetua Dube told AFP.

He was re-arrested on Monday on new charges of "conspiracy to smuggle" in breach of customs laws and "unlawful movement of animals."

A court in Beitbridge ruled that he be remanded in custody until a decision on his bail application is made on Wednesday.

Three South Africans are facing charges of trying to smuggle the 29 sable -- a rare and expensive breed of antelope -- out of Zimbabwe into South Africa.

Zimbabwean authorities said that the animals which include six calves were valued at $384,000 (340,000 euros). They were captured from a private conservancy in the northwestern resort town of Victoria Falls.

Bronkhorst was the guide during a hunt which saw American dentist Walter Palmer pay $55,000 to shoot the popular feline Cecil, with a bow and arrow in July.

The killing of Cecil, a famed lion which was tracked by researchers as part of an Oxford University project provoked outrage among animal lovers worldwide.

Bronkhorst's latest offence occurred while he was out on a $1,000 bail for organising Cecil's hunt.
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