The US dentist who killed a lion in Zimbabwe should be extradited to face charges, Zimbabwe’s Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri has said.
Walter Palmer’s extradition was being sought so that he could “be held accountable for his illegal action,” she said.
Mr Palmer, from Minnesota, is believed to have paid about $50,000 (£32,000) to hunt the lion, known as Cecil.
He says he thought the hunt was legal and was unaware Cecil was protected.
At a news conference in the capital, Harare, Ms Muchinguri referred to Mr Palmer, who has faced a huge internet backlash over the killing, as a “foreign poacher”.
“It was too late to apprehend [him] because he had already absconded to his country of origin,” she said.
Ms Muchinguri also said Palmer’s use of a bow and arrow to kill the lion was in contravention of Zimbabwean hunting regulations, Reuters reports.
Two Zimbabwean men have been implicated in the death of the lion.
A professional hunter has been charged with failing to prevent an illegal hunt – which he denies – and prosecutors are deciding on the exact charges the landowner should face.
Cecil the lion was a major tourist attraction in Hwange National Park – Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve
The 13-year-old animal was renowned for being friendly towards visitors and was recognisable because of his large size and distinctive black mane
It led two prides containing six lionesses and 12 cubs along with another lion, Jericho and was being monitored as part of an Oxford University study into lion conservation
There has been a huge online backlash against Mr Palmer. The dental practice he runs in Minneapolis has been closed since he was named as the hunter who shot Cecil.
On Thursday, the White House said it would review a public petition to extradite the American dentist after more than 100,000 signed it.
But spokesman Josh Earnest said it was up to the US justice department to respond to any extradition order.