Cecil the Lion’s 'Brother' Jericho Alive And Well Despite Rumors, Says Researcher

News & Politics

Despite reports that Cecil the lion’s “brother” Jericho had been shot dead by a poacher, a field researcher at Hwange Lion Research said on Saturday: “He looks alive and well.” Another conservation worker said the lion had been seen with a female earlier in the day, “probably mating”. 

In a statement emailed to the Guardian, Professor David Macdonald, director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, said: “Jericho was seen alive and well at 6.15am [on Sunday]. He has been feeding on a giraffe kill with the lionesses from his pride.”

McDonald also explained that Jericho is not in fact Cecil’s blood brother, but rather a partner in a “coalition” of a kind often formed by unrelated male lions to better compete for territory and prides.

On Saturday, as confusion reigned over Jericho’s health, Stapelkamp told the Guardian he was confident that Jericho was alive. “Nothing looks untoward. It looks like he’s been moving around all day and in fact he sent his last points at six minutes past eight our time,” he said.

Stapelkamp added: “Certainly, I’ve been asked to go and look for him tomorrow morning so I will confirm he is alive and send pictures to the world.”

Trevor Lane of the Bhejane Trust, a wildlife conservation group that works with Hwange national park, said in an email to the Guardian that Jericho had been seen with a female, “probably mating”. Lane added that parks were investigating another lion that was shot on 2 July, though that animal was not collared nor with a pride.

Drew Abrahamson, a wildlife photographer, said on Facebook Jericho had been sending out “normal collar movement” and posted an image showing the satellite information.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) prompted the flurry of press activity when it said on Facebook earlier on Saturday that Cecil’s brother, Jericho, had been shot at 4pm. “We are absolutely heartbroken,” the statement said.

“I think this type of misinformation is characteristic of that particular source,” Stapelkamp said.

Stephen Long, who also works for Bhejane Trust and lives in the western end of the Hwange national park, far from where Jericho holds territory, said in an email: “ZCTF has the same level of credibility as the National Enquirer.” ZCTF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, has been accused of illegally killing Cecil after the lion was lured outside a national reserve. He allegedly paid $50,000 for the hunting trip. Cecil, a 13-year-old lion with a distinctive black mane, was a popular tourist attraction at Hwange national park before he was killed earlier this month.

Zimbabwe’s environment minister has called on Palmer to be extradited from the US to be put on trial for the illegal hunt. On Saturday, wildlife authorities said they had suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the area where Cecil was killed.

The Zimbabwe National Parks authority also said it was investigating the killing of another lion in April that may have been illegal, and said it only received the information this week.

Palmer on Thursday wrote to to his patients to apologize for killing Cecil, saying he did not know the lion was beloved by many. Palmer also described hunting as his passion and has killed 43 different types of animals, including an elephant and polar bear, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“I don’t often talk about hunting with my patients because it can be a divisive and emotionally charged topic,” he wrote. “I understand and respect that not everyone shares the same views on hunting.”

On Sunday, Stapelkamp said Cecil and Jericho oversaw two prides together. The statement from the wildlife authority said the two lions were partners in a “coalition” but were not related.

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