Trophy hunters may be getting a bad rap after a Minnesota dentist allegedly poached Cecil the lion. Many are fighting back in the face of public outrage tonight saying the money they pay is actually... See More
Trophy hunters may be getting a bad rap after a Minnesota dentist allegedly poached Cecil the lion. Many are fighting back in the face of public outrage tonight saying the money they pay is actually crucial to wildlife conservation efforts. Do they have a point? Here's ABC's David Wright. Reporter: Ever since news broke a week ago that Cecil the lion was shot and killed in Zimbabwe, by a Minnesota dentist, allegedly illegally, big game hunters have seemed like an endangered species. Now two American hunters are stepping forward. Defending their hobby even posting their kills to instagram, fully aware of the backlash that is likely to bring. "Nightline" spoke with them tonight via Skype from south Africa. You guys are on safari right now? We just finished. We just finished. Reporter: What did you get? We shot a number of things. I shot a lion and crocodile. Sabrina shot a giraffe, zebra, warthog and impala. Reporter: They say the comments they are receiving on instagram would make your blood run cold. Give me a sense of the kind of comments that you have received? Horrible. Horrible. I want to chop you up in pieces. Who says that? They tell me I amount heartless one. There upset at us for hunting an animal. Yet they hope that we all die. It is shocking to me that they claim to be, you know, have a heart and compassion for life. Reporter: A lot of rational people sympathize with the hunted not the hunters. Murderers! Terrorist! Reporter: The question now is that anger justified or misplaced? This weekend a New York City landmark lit up in honor of Cecil. The empire state building transformed into a towering projection screen. The skyscraper with threatened and endangered species for the first time since king Kong. Among them Zimbabwe's most famous lion. Ty toys has come out with a Cecil the lion beanie baby, proceed to benefit livon conservation. Delta air lines will no longer, transport, lion, elephant, Buffalo, rhino trophies. I'm the director here at allegheny general hospital in Pittsburgh. Reporter: They say he allegedly hunt aid lie Reporter: They say he allegedly hunt aid D a lion in April. Both men in hiding. Angry protesters stalking. Justice for Cecil! Reporter: Does any part of the anger that people are expressing give you pause before you pull that trigger? No. I'll tell you why. If they understood, if they came to Africa as many times as I have been here and saw with their own two eyes what kind of benefit the wildlife in these wild areas gets from the hunting that takes place they would have a much different understanding. Reporter: How can you possibly are gau tgue hunting lions is good for conservation efforts? Hunting absolutely is the roe only tool paying for the wildlife conservation throughout Africa. Reporter: Conservation groups dispute that. It is a fantasy what the wealthy, elite American hunters is doing is benefiting the species in the wild. This is about blood lust for entertainment. It is a thrill kill. When you take an individual animal, whether an elephant, rhino, or lion out of their family system and out of their eco system it does nothing to enhance conversation. Reporter: Many of the hunters also proclaim their hunts are helping to bolster the local economy. But a recent study by the international union for conservation of nature found that hunting provide less than 1/3 of 1% of Zimbabwe's gdp. Accounts for less than 5% of the country's tourism. The vast majority of the money is not coming from trophy hunting, not supporting african conservation and not supporting the african people. Reporter: Hunting can be tricky to manage. Even if certain areas like the national park are off limits for hunters it's not like these are fenced in areas. There is nothing to stop the game from wandering outside of the protected perimeters. That's what happened to Cecil. I was enchanted by Cecil, his magnificence, beauty and his, his lifestyle. Reporter: David McDonald, an oxford university wildlife biologist studying Zimbabwe's lions for the past 20 years. 200 of them strapped with gps collars including Cecil. We were aware that Cecil had left the protection of the national park and after some time, some time his movements came to an abrupt end. That's Abad sign. They led trackers to the farm where Cecil's carcass discarded, pelt and head cart add way for a trophy now confiscated by Zimbabwe authorities. Dr. Palmer release aid statement insisting I deeply regret my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the take of this lion. Conservation groups including the humane society have long fought for the african lion to be placed on the endangered species list. If they were, American hunters could still hunt them legally but importing the trophies would be forbidden. There are fewer than 34,000 african lions left in the wild. And hunters kill an average of 6640 a year. Nearly 2/3 of the trophies are brought back by American hunters, by far the biggest population of trophy hunters worldwide. If you couldn't bring the trophy home, would you still want to kill it? Yes. Listen, I would want to hunt it. Because I am a hunter. I am a predator. That's what I do. It is engrained in my DNA. Reporter: Authorities in Zimbabwe are demanding the extradition of Walter palmer to face poaching charges. We are looking forward to his extradition. Reporter: If it is fund to be illegal should Dr. Palmer have to go back and face those charges? I would never suggest that I think somebody shouldn't have to face the music. I think everybody should have to do that if they have commit aid crime. Reporter: The U.S. Is unlikely to extradite an American to Zimbabwe, a country not exactly known for its commitment to due process. But there are U.S. Laws in place to protect wildlife in foreign countries like the lacy act signed into law by president Mckinley in 1900. Even if they didn't break any laws, these hunters now feel caught in the cross hairs. So many people, you know calling me a poacher because they don't even think it is legal to hunt giraffe. Before you speak make sure you know what you are speaking about. One key question, did Dr. Palmer know he was doing something illegal or as he says was he just trusting his african guide. Either way, having killed Cecil the lion, it's unlikely his life will ever be the same again. I'm David Wright for "Nightline" in London.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.