Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority accused Dr. Jan Casimir Seski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, of shooting a lion with a bow and arrow in April near Hwange National Park, without approval, on land where it was not allowed, according to The Associated Press.
Zimbabwe National Parks spokeswoman Caroline Washaya Moyo had told the AP that Seski provided his name and other identifying information for a government database when he came for the hunt. Landowner Headman Sibanda was arrested and is assisting police, the agency said.
Seski's attorney said today his client was in America in April, the month Zimbabwe parks and wildlife officials say he participated in the hunt. “During April of this year, Dr. Seski was at his home in the Pittsburgh area treating the cancer patients that rely on him for their care through the medical practice that he has maintained since 1981,” said Seski attorney Gregory F. Linsin in the statement.
Seski did, however, "travel to Zimbabwe in July of this year and participated in a lawfully permitted hunt," his attorney added.
"During this trip, Dr. Seski did lawfully hunt and take a lion," Linsin said. "As required by the rules in Zimbabwe, he promptly notified the Zimbabwean authorities and provided them with all of the information and paperwork required by law. He ensured that he was at all times in compliance with all rules, regulations and laws, and had the necessary permits required by Zimbabwe."
Seski is a gynecological oncologist whose website calls him Medical Director at the Center for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. Yesterday, however, Allegheny Health Network issued a statement in which it said that Seski “is an independent physician not employed by Allegheny Health network who has provided care to gynecologic cancer patients at hospitals throughout the Pittsburgh region for decades and who has been a leader in the field of bloodless medicine”.
Seski is also an active big-game hunter, according to safari outfitters and bow-hunting sites where kill shots identify "Dr. Jan Seski" as the man standing next to slain animals including elephants, a hippo, an ostrich and antelopes such as an impala, a kudu and a nyala.
The Zimbabwean safari operator accused of facilitating an illegal lion hunt for a U.S. citizen in April denies the bow and arrow kill was unlawful and says his client acted in "good faith."
Sibanda, the landowner, said Monday in a telephone interview with The AP that his client Seski didn't break any law during his Zimbabwean hunt.
Sibanda says the relevant paperwork was in place for Seski's hunt.
Seski’s attorney’s statement concludes with “Dr. Seski urgently wishes to return to his medical practice and to continue serving his patients. As he has for the past 35 years, that is where Dr. Seski intends to focus his energy and attention.”
Zimbabwe has suspended bow and arrow hunting, as well as the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants near Hwange National Park, an area popular with tourists.
Cecil’s death has intensified the call for an outright ban of big-game hunting, with tens of thousands signing a petition calling on the United States and Europe to ban hunters from bringing home trophy kills.
Big-game hunting is a big sport for Americans; U.S. citizens book more African hunting expeditions than anyone else and, according to a 2011 report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, account for 64 percent of all lion trophies.
Animal expert Jack Hanna, appearing Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week,” said the world’s lion population has been declining.
“I think every good hunter would agree that something has to happen here,” Hanna said of Palmer. “The doctor himself must know something has to happen here, because that’s not what good hunters do, by any means.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.