Killed: US dentist Walter Palmer, left, went into hiding over the death of Cecil, a famous lion in Zimbabwe
Dominic Dyer, of wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation, said trophy hunting was unacceptable and called for Sir David to lose his knighthood. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘People are globally very angry, I think they have had enough.’
Sir David is now retired and lives in a £4million home overlooking Hampstead Heath in North London with his wife Alexandra.
He was yesterday unavailable for comment.
Among those signing the petition to strip him of his title was Rob Foster from Guildford, Surrey, who wrote: ‘This monster does not deserve a knighthood. He should be shamed, not celebrated.’
Adrian James, of Alton, Hampshire, added: ‘Majestic animal killed by a pathetic animal.’
Animal rights campaigners launched an online petition calling on the Prime Minister to strip him of his knighthood because of his participation in the hunts, and last night it had attracted more than 345,000 signatures.
Mimi Bekhechi, UK director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said: ‘That David Scholey is a knight is an insult to the honours system.
Outrage: Sir David, now 80, in the City in 1999
‘The only “beast” in the disgusting photographs of him posing over the corpses of wild animals he’s mercilessly killed is him.
‘If knighthood is to mean anything at all, Scholey needs to be stripped of his.’
Sir David, now 80, made his name in the City in the 1980s and 1990s when he was chairman of the merchant bank SG Warburg. He was also a director for firms including Sainsbury’s and Vodafone.
Photographs of him posing next to a dead lion emerged in 2011, when they were posted on the websites of two safari companies, and he defended his actions. He said at the time: ‘I have been hunting all over the world for many, many years and I have always hunted within the legal arrangements of the country concerned. I regard that as an entirely personal matter.
‘All the animals I hunt are wild beasts. And I have felt threatened by them at times. The lion I killed certainly wasn’t an endangered species where I was hunting it.’
Sir David, who donated £5,000 to Ken Clarke’s 2005 campaign to become Tory leader, added: ‘Obviously, if I felt there was anything wrong in it I wouldn’t do it.
‘The object is to dispatch the animal with a bullet it never hears. That’s why it’s important to be a very good shot before you even think about hunting. I continue to hunt big game, not as much as I used to but I do continue to do it.’
It comes after a US dentist went into hiding over the death of a famous lion in Zimbabwe. Walter Palmer, 55, from Minnesota, allegedly paid £32,000 to a local safari firm to kill Cecil, the 13-year-old star of the Hwange national park.
Cecil was known as a gentle giant who posed no threat to humans – which experts say may have made him an easy target for hunters. They added that now he is dead, his six youngest cubs are likely to be killed by other male lions.
On safari: The banker, a former governer of the BBC, with elephant tusks and skulls of a buffalo and antelope
Pictures of Sir David were posted on the websites of two African firms which organise hunting trips, Safari Bwana and Johan Calitz Safaris. Last year, Safari Bwana charged $61,500 (£40,000) for a 21-day lion and leopard hunting trip to Mozambique in Southern Africa, but its website warned that trips to Zambia and Tanzania could cost up to $100,000 (£64,000).
According to the website, a large maned lion is ‘the ultimate quarry’ for a hunter. Owner Pete Swanepoel said enthusiasts kept trophies of such hunts to ‘inspire memories and dreams to appear, those that put a smile on your face’.
He described a 34-day hunt in Zambia with ‘a large group of very well-heeled hunters from England’, including ‘a tall and famous banker’, which ended with the killing of a lion – although it was not clear if Sir David was on that trip.