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Man behind Cecil the lion hunt: "It's destroyed us"

Our cameras tracked down Theo Bronkhorst before he entered a Zimbabwe court
Man who helped in Cecil the lion killing faces Zimbabwe judge 02:47

A courtroom drama played out Wednesday as the man behind the hunt of Cecil the lion appeared before a judge in Zimbabwe. While Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil, has been freed of all charges, the man who led the hunt is still being prosecuted, CBS News' Debora Patta reports.

Inside Zimbabwe's business of big-game hunting 03:25

Hiding behind dark glasses and a cap, Theo Bronkhorst drove into the Hwange magistrates court and sat in his car, anxiously waiting for court to start. Turning his head away from the camera, he told CBS News that he had done nothing wrong because he had a legal permit and would be vindicated in court.

"Well, I guess I shot a famous lion," Bronkhorst said.

The famous lion was of course the iconic star attraction of the Hwange National Park - the rare black-maned Cecil.

Bronkhorst said he believes he is the fall guy.

"There are many collared lions shot every year, and as far as I'm aware there's five that were shot this year alone," Bronkhorst said.

Bronkhorst broke down as he told CBS News his life had been ruined by the charges.

"Well, it's destroyed us, it's destroyed the family, my business," said an emotional Bronkhorst. "You know, we employ a lot of people, and they are on half-time now. I guess each family is supporting six or more dependents."

Opponents seek alternative punishment for dentist lion killer 02:30

Zimbabwean authorities insist the shooting of Cecil was against the law. Illegal hunting is seldom prosecuted in Zimbabwe, but Brent Staplekamp -- who collared Cecil as part of an Oxford University study -- was convinced that because of the international outrage over the shooting of Cecil, this time would be different. But like many Zimbabweans, he is surprised charges were dropped against Palmer.

"I really thought this was going to be an example to other people who have done this before or who would do it in the future, so very disappointed that we are not going to see justice," Staplekamp said.

Bronkhorst said he believes that the fact that charges were dropped against Palmer prove that all the papers were in order. But he is going to have to wait a little longer to have his day in court as his case has been postponed once again until early next week.

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