Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
A PROFESSIONAL hunter behind the killing of the famous lion, Cecil, Theodore Albert Christiaan Bronkhorst yesterday appeared in court facing charges of failure to comply with conditions of a permit after he was found in possession of animal hides and skulls.
Bronkhorst, 52, of Riverside, Bulawayo, was also charged for violating the Parks and Wildlife Act by removing and selling live animals but prosecutors withdrew the charge before plea, due to lack of evidence.
Police arrested Bronkhorst on Tuesday after he, together with three South African men, allegedly attempted to smuggle 30 sables into South Africa through an undesignated exit point along the Limpopo River.
Prosecuting Taurai Hondoyemoto said on September 14, police received information that Bronkhorst was in possession of some animal hides and skulls at his house. “Police acting on the information visited Bronkhorst’s house where 29 skins and 10 skulls were recovered,” said Hondoyemoto.
The court heard that Bronkhorst possessed an animal movement permit which required him to take the trophies to SB Logistics within three days from September 9 but failed to do so.
“Bronkhorst had no right to take the trophies to another place not mentioned in the permit,” said Hondoyemoto.
Bronkhorst through his lawyer Advocate Perpetua Dube applied for bail.
Bulawayo magistrate Tinashe Tashaya granted him $100 bail and remanded the matter to September 24.
On Friday, three South Africans were apprehended while trying to smuggle the 30 live sables linked to Bronkhorst in Beitbridge. Two of the animals had already died by the time the trucks were intercepted.
According to a conservation group, the Bhejane Trust, which operates in Hwange and Victoria Falls, it is believed that the sables were originally imported from Zambia.
The conservation trust said the animals had been kept at a farm where Bronkhorst was staying in Victoria Falls.
The three South Africans have since appeared in court charged with smuggling and moving animals without a permit as well as attempting to depart Zimbabwe through an illegal exit point. They were remanded in custody to today by a Beitbridge magistrate pending trial.
The professional hunter’s arrest comes at a time when he is on bail on charges of carrying out an illegal hunt which resulted in the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist Walter Palmer.
Palmer first shot Cecil with a bow and arrow and finished him off with a gun. Bronkhorst is due back in court on September 28 in connection with the Cecil case.