Zimbabwe's President Blames 'Vandals' For Killing Cecil The Lion : Parallels President Robert Mugabe made his first public statement about the lion, saying his compatriots must protect their country's natural resources from foreign "vandals."
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Zimbabwe's President Blames 'Vandals' For Killing Cecil The Lion

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Zimbabwe's President Blames 'Vandals' For Killing Cecil The Lion

Zimbabwe's President Blames 'Vandals' For Killing Cecil The Lion

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist has sparked an international outcry, but there's also criticism of the global attention the death of an animal is receiving, especially when Zimbabwe has so many other problems. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: In a speech marking annual National Heroes' Day, President Mugabe said Zimbabweans had failed in their responsibility to protect Cecil the lion.

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ROBERT MUGABE: Even Cecil the lion is yours. He's dead. But he was yours to protect and you failed to protect him.

QUIST-ARCTON: The lion with the distinctive black mane was shot with a crossbow by Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer. He's said to have paid $50,000 for the hunt. It's been reported that the lion was lured out of the protected Hwange National Park before being killed. Mugabe said Zimbabweans must protect what he called their country's natural resources from foreign, quote, "vandals."

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MUGABE: Some may be just ordinary visitors, but others who want to vandalize do irregularly and illegally acquire part of those resources.

QUIST-ARCTON: There has been international indignation about the killing of Cecil and a backlash against trophy hunting big game like lions. But some commentators wonder, how come this story, about an animal, is attracting global headlines while Zimbabwean people struggle with so many other human problems such as high unemployment, economic strife and political repression? Nevertheless, Zimbabwe's environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, says Palmer, the American, must face justice.

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OPPAH MUCHINGURI: Unfortunately, it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher, as he had already absconded.

QUIST-ARCTON: The minister says Zimbabwe is seeking Palmer's extradition from the U.S.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Dakar.

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