U.S. doctor wasn't in Zimbabwe for allegedly illegal hunt, lawyer says

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Story highlights

  • Zimbabwe said Pennsylvania doctor took part in an illegal hunt in April
  • Dr. Jan Seski did hunt for a lion in July, but wasn't in Zimbabwe in April, his lawyer says
  • Allegation came amid outrage over a separate case -- the killing of Cecil the lion

(CNN)The second American recently accused by the Zimbabwean government of illegally hunting in the African nation wasn't in Zimbabwe when the incident is alleged to have happened, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Dr. Jan Seski, a Pittsburgh-area oncologist, did participate in a "lawfully permitted hunt" in Zimbabwe in a different month, but he denies that he did anything wrong, his U.S. attorney Greg Linsin said.
Zimbabwe's Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said Monday that Seski was involved an allegedly illegal hunt in April, put on by a safari guide who was arrested for his role in it.
    Dr. Jan Seski is seen posing next to a hippo with a heavy arrow driven into its rib.
    The incident was separate from the highly publicized killing of Cecil the lion in July, a death for which Zimbabwe has sought the extradition of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Seski is not accused of having any ties to Cecil's killing, and Zimbabwe has not requested Seski's extradition.
    Seski did participate in a lawful hunt of a lion in July, Linsin said. The Zimbabwean government did not say what species of animals were hunted in the allegedly illegal April safari, which authorities say was conducted without a quota or permit.
    A photo posted to the Alaska bowhunting website shows Dr. Jan Seski standing next to a bull elephant killed by an arrow.
    Seski "promptly notified Zimbabwean authorities and provided them with all of the information and paperwork required by law," Linsin said of Seski's July hunt.
    "He ensured that he was at all times in compliance with all rules, regulations and laws, and had the necessary permits required by Zimbabwe," the lawyer said.
    Zimbabwe named Seski three days after it demanded Palmer's extradition in connection with Cecil's death outside Hwange National Park in July.
    Palmer, his professional hunter guide and the owner of the land where the hunt took place are accused of illegally hunting Cecil, according to Zimbabwe's government.
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    Palmer is accused of financing an illegal hunt, and he and the professional hunter are accused of using food to lure Cecil out of the protected game reserve before killing him. They also are accused of illegally using a bow and arrow to avoid detection by park rangers, Oppah Muchinguri, the African nation's environment minister, said last week.
    The landowner allegedly allowed the hunt to be conducted without a lion quota and without the necessary permit, Muchinguri said.
    Palmer has said he relied on the expertise of local guides "to ensure a legal hunt."
    "I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt," Palmer said in a statement last week.
    U.S. officials have declined to comment on Zimbabwe's extradition request.
    Authorities have vowed to crack down on illegal hunting in the wake of Cecil's death, and have ordered the suspension of hunts targeting lions, leopards and elephants outside of Hwange National Park, as well as a broad investigation into hunting industry practices. The latest accusations emerged during the inquiry, Zimbabwe's Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said.
    Cecil was a major tourist draw at Hwange, as well as the subject of a long-running research study. His death brought widespread condemnation of Palmer, and the practice of hunting lions and other big game trophy in general and prompted Zimbabwe to demand his extradition.
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    On Sunday, researchers in Zimbabwe rejected reports of the death of another male lion with whom Cecil had formed a close bond. Jericho was alive and well, Oxford University researchers said, tweeting a photo as proof.