- Conservation group says Jericho, the brother of Cecil the lion, was killed on Saturday
- That claim is disputed by a researcher who tracks the lion.
- Cecil's killing made international headlines because the lion was part of a long-running study by researchers at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
The status of Jericho, the brother of Cecil the lion, who was gunned down by an American dentist in an organized hunt last month, is in question after a conservation group said he was shot and killed today in Zimbabwe, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
“It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil’s brother has been killed at 4pm today,” the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Saturday in a Facebook post. “We are absolutely heart broken.”
The Task Force said Jericho, like his brother Cecil, was killed by a hunter operating illegally. Jericho was apparently shot inside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, while Cecil was coaxed outside the park using an animal carcass as bait.
However Reuters and the Associated Press are reporting that Brent Stapelkamp of the Hwange Lion Research Project says Jericho appears to be “alive and well” according to data from his GPS tracking device.
Whatever Jericho’s status, international outrage over Cecil’s killing continues to grow. A petition to the White House to extradite his killer, Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer, to Zimbabwe for prosecution has surpassed the 100,000 needed to get a U.S. government response.
Palmer, who paid $50,000 for the hunt, asserts that he believed the hunt to be legal at this time of the killing. His hunting guides were subsequently arrested by Zimbabwean authorities.
While hundreds of lions are killed every year, the killing made international headlines because Cecil was part of a long-running study by researchers at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
Currently estimated at under 35,000 individuals, Africa’s lion population has plunged by more than 90 percent since the 1950s primarily due to habitat loss, conflict humans, and hunting.