Cecil the lion has been a favourite with tourists.
Cecil the lion has been a favourite with tourists.

Coast man recalls 'fluke encounter' with Cecil the lion

The Buderim man who came face-to-face with the world famous Cecil the lion has described his outrageous killing as "despicable".

The world was sent into frenzy last week when American dentist Walter Palmer lured the lion out of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park in the midst of night and illegally shot the helpless animal with a bow and arrow.

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Local tradie Jim Johnson shared a memorable moment with Cecil last October and said the culprit must be punished.

"I hope the full force of the law comes down on him because, a. He deserves it, and, b. It may just stop other wealthy doctors," he said.

"I hope they extradite him."

JUSTICE: Jim Johnson photographed Cecil the lion while he was on holidays in Zimbabwe.
JUSTICE: Jim Johnson photographed Cecil the lion while he was on holidays in Zimbabwe. Warren Lynam

An amateur underwater photographer, Mr Johnson's chance encounter happened when he opted to ply his trade to aboveground photography on safari.

Mr Johnson's adventures led him to The Hide, a luxury tented camp situated deep in the heart of the park.

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One day out on safari, Mr Johnson said he was taken aback when he overheard two guides discussing the whereabouts of Cecil.

"I didn't pay attention, but I heard 'Cecil the lion'," he said.

"It meant nothing to me at the time, but I noticed this guide had a camera.

"None of the other guides ever had one. They all carry rifles, not cameras."

So at the guide's wish, the three of them set out to track down the beast.

"I didn't know it was a famous lion, but not a lot of animals get names over there," Mr Johnson continued.

As they approached, six metres away from the majestic creature, Cecil raised his head in blase fashion long enough for a quick snap before going back to sleep, unfazed by his rude paparazzi.

Mr Johnson said he'd been fortunate to catch a glimpse of the beautiful creature still in his prime.

"It wasn't until yesterday that I realised that he was the lion," he said.

"It was just one of those fluke encounters."



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