Cecil, the lion, was a major attraction at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe when he was wounded by an arrow, and then shot and killed by a big-game hunter in 2015. Now, one of his cubs has suffered the same fate, enraging animal conservation advocates globally.
The 6-year-old cub, Xanda, was wearing an electronic collar so that researchers could track and monitor him. On July 7, while outside the Hwange National Park, the cub fell prey to a trophy hunt organized by Richard Cooke, a Zimbabwean professional hunter from RC Safaris. Later, when Cooke found the lion had a collar, he handed it back to the researchers, The Guardian reports.
Cooke has not disclosed the names of the people taking part in the trophy hunt.
Xanda had been under the regular monitoring of Andrew Loveridge from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University at the time of his death. According to Loveridge, the department knew the lion and his pride had been leaving the park's domain often.
“I fitted it last October. It was monitored almost daily and we were aware that Xanda and his pride was spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that,” he said.
“Xanda was one of these gorgeous Kalahari lions, with a big mane, big body, beautiful condition - a very, very lovely animal,” he added.
Despite loving the animal, he also said that he did not blame Cooke personally for this death.
“Richard Cooke is one of the 'good' guys. He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over 6 years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations.”
Still, Loveridge said, he hopes that a 5 kilometer exclusion zone is enforced around the Hwange National Park in the near future so that other precious lions such as Xanda can be protected from hunters. This, he told reporters, would help to ensure hunters wouldn't accidentally shoot collared lions.
At the time Xanda's father, Cecil, was killed, he had also wandered just outside the park to the area where he had been born.
While nobody has revealed the name of the hunter responsible for this more recent death, he may have paid 40,000 pounds (about $52,000) to take the shot. Now, Xanda's head may be getting ready to be cured and mounted so the hunter may display it at his home, wherever that is.
Cecil's killer, a then 55-year-old dentist from Minnesota named Walter James Palmer, paid $65,000 to shoot the notorious lion with a bow and arrow.
Animal conservationists like Masha Kalinina from the Humane Society International, think people haven't learned their lesson.
“Trophy hunters have learned nothing,” Kalinina told The Guardian. “To stop lions slipping into extinction, it is critical that countries like Zimbabwe focus on keeping as many lions alive as possible. It could follow the examples of Botswana and Kenya, which ban trophy hunting.”
Let us hope that Loveridge's goal of expanding the exclusion zone is met so that hunters won't have access to that area in the future. Perhaps then, other countries will follow suit and take better care of the territory occupied by animals like Xanda.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Eric Miller