Theo Bronkhorst, the professional hunter who took U.S. dentist Walter Palmer on a hunting spree, which ended in the death of the magnificient, black-maned Cecil the Lion, headed to court last week. The Zimbabwean court has now agreed to drop all charges against the hunter.

It was back in July 2015 that the news hit the media of the killing of Cecil the Lion, causing outrage among animal activists and animal-lovers worldwide. The incident created a backlash against big game hunting in Africa in general and led to charges being laid against Palmer himself and the professional hunter who aided him in the killing.

Charges dropped against Walter Palmer and Theo Bronkhorst

While Palmer was cleared of any responsibility, Bronkhorst was charged with having failed to stop what was thought to be an illegal hunt.

It was after the Zimbabwean government decided not to pursue Palmer over the killing that the focus moved to his hunting aid, Bronkhorst. Bronkhorst’s lawyers then immediately applied to have the charges dropped against him in light of the case against Palmer being dropped. As noted by News24, one of the hunter’s lawyers, Perpetua Dube, said that while the charges were brought against Bronkhorst in August 2015, there was no full trial held in the matter. It was decided by the High Court judge in Zimbabwe last week that the charges against the hunter were not properly constituted and the case was dropped. Dube went on to say that Bronkhorst was relieved, as it has been a “pretty harrowing experience” for the hunter and a “long year.”

The hunt for Cecil the Lion

Palmer paid $50,000 for a hunt, which Bronkhorst arranged for him.

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Palmer then shot Cecil the Lion using a bow and arrow, just outside the Hwange National Park boundaries. Palmer, Bronkhorst and their team then tracked the wounded lion for a harrowing 11 hours before finally killing him.

At the time of the incident Zimbabwe’s environmental minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri immediately called for the extradition of Palmer to Zimbabwe and then laid charges against Bronkhorst, saying the professional hunter did not have the correct permits for the hunt.

While those involved in killing Cecil the Lion – an iconic and popular tourist attraction in the country – were dropped, the case did, at least, spark a backlash in the international animal conservation community against the practice of big game hunting in Africa. As reported by Takepart, hundreds of lions have been killed in the country over the years and, unlike in Cecil's case, most of these killings went unnoticed. However, there are reportedly only an estimated 20,000 lions remaining in Africa, while 200 years ago there were thought to be around 500,000.

According to research, if big game hunting continues, the remaining number of lions could be halved within the next 20 years.

As a result of the incident, U.S. federal officials have now put lions under stricter conservation protections, with several airlines banning the transport of lion trophies on their planes and many other countries restricting the importation of lion trophies.