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Cecil lion hunt guide appears in court

The Zimbabwean hunter who led the expedition that killed Cecil the lion appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of organising an illegal hunt.

Theo Bronkhorst, who runs a safari company, denies any wrongdoing over the hunt in July when US dentist Walter Palmer paid to shoot the lion with a bow and arrow.

Zimbabwean officials have called for Palmer to be extradited from the US over the "illegal" killing, claiming he broke the law by financing an illegal hunt.

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Cecil killer 'wanted to hunt elephant' after slaying lion

Theo Bronkhurst said he was 'devastated' when he realised they had killed a protected animal. Credit: Reuters

The man accused of killing Cecil the lion wanted to hunt an elephant after the slaying but "couldn't find one big enough", his guide claims.

Theo Bronkhurst told The Daily Telegraph he never meant to hunt in the land where Cecil was shot and was "devastated" to learn Walter Palmer had killed a protected animal.

He said: "We would never shoot a collared animal. We were both upset. I should have taken the collar to the parks authority but I panicked.

"So we did what had to be done and took the head and skin as the client had paid for the trophy.

"The client asked if we would find him an elephant larger than 63 pounds (the weight of one tusk) but I told him we would not be able to find one so big, so he left the next day."

Mr Bronkhurst claims he "never knew about Cecil, this famous lion" and that four other collared lions had been shot in the same area this year.

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