Two Zimbabweans are due to appear in court over the killing of Cecil, the country’s most famous lion shot by American dentist Walter Palmer.
Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and farm owner Honest Ndlovu, are charged with poaching offences for not having the required hunting permit.
Walter Palmer shot the animal with a crossbow and rifle outside Hwange National Park.
Police say Walter Palmer, who claims he was unaware of the lion’s identity, could also face poaching charges.
Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, who accompanied Walter Palmer on the hunt, will appear in court in Victoria Falls, and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Walter Palmer says he regrets shooting the well-known animal and believed he was on a legal hunt, saying he relied on professional guides to find a lion and obtain the necessary permits.
Separately, court records have shown that the dentist has a felony record in the US after killing a black bear in the state of Wisconsin in 2006.
Records from the Minnesota Board of Dentistry also show that Walter Palmer was the subject of a harassment complaint which was settled in 2006.
A receptionist alleged that the dentist had made comments to her. Walter Palmer admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to pay out more than $127,000.
Walter Palmer is believed to have paid about $50,000 to go on the hunt in Zimbabwe.
Cecil the lion was skinned and beheaded, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a local charity.
Walter Palmer insists that he believed his guides had secured “all proper permits” for the hunt.
“I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” he said in a statement on July 28.
He said he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the US but would “assist them in any inquiries they may have”.
Walter Plmer is believed to be back in the US, although his exact whereabouts are unknown.
“Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practise responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,” he said.
The dental practice run by Walter Palmer was closed on July 28 and a note was placed on the door referring visitors to a public relations company.
The practice’s Facebook page was removed from the site after being besieged by angry comments and the company website was also taken down.
Zimbabwe, like many African countries, is battling to curb illegal hunting and poaching which threatens to make some of its wildlife extinct.
Cecil, a 13-year-old lion, was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe’s famous Hwange National Park.
The animal is believed to have been killed on July 1st but the carcass was not discovered until a few days later.
The ZCTF said the hunters had used bait to lure him outside Hwange National Park during a night-time pursuit.
Walter Palmer is said to have shot Cecil with a crossbow, injuring the animal. The group did not find the wounded lion until 40 hours later, when he was shot dead with a gun.
The animal had a GPS collar fitted for a research project by Oxford University that allowed authorities to track its movements. The hunters tried to destroy it, but failed, according to the ZCTF.
The six cubs of Cecil will now be killed by the new male lion in the pride in order to encourage the lionesses to mate with him.
About a century ago there were around 200,000 lions roaming across Africa but that figure has dropped to less than 30,000 in recent years.
Hunting lions is legal in several countries in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, but groups must obtain a valid permit from authorities.