The killing of the famous Zimbabwean lion by Walter Palmer became global news and stimulated debate about hunting and conservation, as well as fierce social media criticism of Palmer. The US dentist took on a PR firm to handle the backlash, although many PRs surveyed in both the US and the UK said they would not have taken on such a client.
Now, the South African president has partially reignited the media storm. Zuma has been reported across various media as having 'laughed off' the incident, referring to it as "just an incident", saying: "I don’t think it’s a matter we can debate that much." He also said: "What it sounds like from a distance [is] that the hunter did not know that Cecil was so popular, just saw a lion."
Zuma's comments have not been generally well received on Twitter.
However, some have appeared to at least partially side with Zuma, wondering whether the Cecil story merits as much attention as it is getting.
So Zuma could answer a question on #CecilTheLion today but not Glencore's mining licence in Parliament last week. *sobs*— Kristen van Schie (@kristenvanschie) August 11, 2015
Memo to South African journalists: Instead of asking and printing Jacob Zuma's opinion on Cecil the Lion, ask him about Marikana— AFRICA IS A COUNTRY (@AfricasaCountry) August 11, 2015
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe itself, Robert Mugabe has not been taking the issue so lightly, while UK environment minister Rory Stewart has also weighed into the debate, telling The Daily Telegraph it was "important for people to understand" why hunting was allowed in many African countries.
Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are to blame for Cecil the lion’s death http://t.co/HunTNQvZGz— TIME.com (@TIME) August 10, 2015