The American hunter who paid to kill the treasured lion, escaped his hometown because of triggered protests, reports say.

Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, who was revealed as a killer of the Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, has gone into hiding after the anger to his action spread to Palmer’s hometown.

On the practice door of Dr Palmer’s dental surgery in Bloomington an unknown protestor leaf a flysheet with a picture showing a beaming killer and another hunter behind the body of the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks.

“Dr Walt Palmer – doesn’t he look proud of himself?, the flysheet says, before describing the demise of the “beloved Cecil”.

Walter James Palmer has reportedly paid £35,000 to hunter and kill the beloved animal with a bow and arrow.

Cecil the lion was killed on July 1 in Hwange National Park. Two independent sources have confirmed the hunter’s identity to the paper, which has also seen a copy of the relevant hunting permit.

Zimbabwe conservational groups were angered and shocked after hearing the news that the 13-year-old lion had been shot down: partly because the lion was well known to park visitors and seemingly enjoyed human contact, and partly because of the way in which he was killed. He was lured out of the national park and shot.

“He never bothered anybody,” said Johnny Rodrigues, the head of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force. “He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at.”

The dentist told in one of the interviews that authorities had yet to contact him and said that he regretted killing the “local favourite”.

“In early July, I was in Zimbabwe on a bow hunting trip for big game. I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted,” he said.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.

“I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the US about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.”

The death of Cecil comes as Zimbabwe, like many African countries, attempts to crack down on illegal hunting and poaching, local authorities say.

“This has been going on too long. Cecil is the 23 or 24th lion that has been collared and then killed in Hwange. We have to try and stop it.”

Conservation authorities said they were also dealing with the likely consequences of Cecil’s death for his six cubs. “The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females.”

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