HARARE – Now there are two: Zimbabwe accused a gynecological oncologist from Pennsylvania on Sunday of illegally killing a lion in April, adding to the outcry over a Minnesota dentist the African government wants to extradite for killing a well-known lion named Cecil in early July.
Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority accused Jan Casimir Seski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, of shooting the lion with a bow and arrow in April near Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, without approval, on land where it was not allowed.
Landowner Headman Sibanda was arrested and is assisting police, it said.
Seski is a gynecological oncologist who directs the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
He’s also an active big-game hunter, according to safari outfitters and bow-hunting sites where pictures of kills identify “Dr. Jan Seski” as the man standing next to slain animals, including elephants, an impala, a kudu, a Nyala, a hippo and an ostrich.
Those images also match the doctor’s appearance on his medical practice’s website.
The Associated Press called and knocked on the door at Seski’s home, which is set back among some woods outside Pittsburgh. AP also left a message with an answering service for his medical practice, with no immediate response.
A handful of Seski’s neighbors said he mostly keeps to himself and that he’d been buying up the land around his property. Ernest Hahn said Seski put up no-trespassing signs, breaking the rural area’s tradition of people feeling free to cross property lines to hunt.
Hahn said Seski can be “quirky,” walking around wearing a low-slung pistol “like a gunslinger,” for example, but he appreciates that his neighbor is protecting land from development.
“It seemed to me everything he does is aboveboard,” Hahn said. “I’ve never seen him done anything illegal or unsportsmanlike at all.”
National Parks spokeswoman Caroline Washaya Moyo said Seski had provided his name and other identifying information for a government database when he came for the hunt.
“When hunters come into the country they fill a document stating their personal details, the amount they have paid for the hunt, the number of animals to be hunted, the species to be hunted and the area and period where that hunt is supposed to take place,” she said. “The American conducted his hunt in an area where lion hunting is outlawed. The landowner who helped him with the hunt also did not have a have a quota for lion hunting.”
Stewart Dorrington, who operates Melorani Safaris and owns a game reserve in neighboring South Africa where Seski hunted in 2012, said the American seemed like a “perfect gentleman.” Dorrington said they had not had any contact recently.
“He was a great guy,” Dorrington said. “Everything he did was perfectly legal and above board and a great help to our conservation efforts.”
Dorrington said he had converted his cattle ranch into a game reserve in the 1980s, and that funds from trophy hunting of antelope are essential to conserving wildlife.
Two other illegal lion hunts also were recorded last year in Zimbabwe, said Geoffrey Matipano, conservation director for the wildlife authority. He did not provide details on those cases.
Zimbabwean authorities have said they will seek the extradition of Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer, alleging he did not have authorization to kill the lion named Cecil a month ago. The lion was lured out of Hwange park, wounded with a bow and arrow and then tracked down and shot, conservationists said.
Two Zimbabwean citizens were arrested and face charges in the case in which Palmer has been implicated. Palmer said he relied on his professional guides to ensure his hunt was legal.
On Saturday, Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority said it had suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the Hwange area. Bow and arrow hunts also were suspended, and can only be approved by the head of the wildlife authority.