THE US dentist who killed a lion in Zimbabwe should be extradited to face charges, environment minister Oppah Muchinguri has said.

Now the hunted ... Walter Palmer
Now the hunted … Walter Palmer

Walter Palmer’s extradition was being sought so that he could “be held accountable for his illegal action,” she said.

Palmer, from Minnesota, is believed to have paid about $50,000 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, Muchinguri referred to 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.

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.

There has been a huge online backlash against 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.-BBC