Status of Jericho, Cecil the lion’s brother, disputed – USA TODAY
The brother of Cecil the lion, whose death sparked widespread outrage this week, was killedÂ by a hunterÂ Saturday afternoon in Zimbabwe, a local conservation group said. However, another organization quickly disputed the report.
“I’m very disappointed.Â I’m heartbroken,”Â ZimbabweÂ Conservation Task ForceÂ chairman Johnny Rodrigues told USA TODAY about the illegal killing of the lion named Jericho. “It’s just too much.”
A researcher with theÂ Hwange Lion Research Project, however, told Reuters and the Associated Press that Jericho is not deadÂ based on his GPS tracking device.Â “He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell,” said Brent Stapelkamp,Â aÂ field researcher with the project, which has beenÂ monitoring the lion.
The conflicting reportsÂ comeÂ after Cecil was lured out of Hwange National Park andÂ shot with a bow and arrow before being tracked and killedÂ early last monthÂ by Minnesota hunter and dentistÂ Walter Palmer, who allegedlyÂ paid $50,000 to hunt him.
The nation’s wildlife authority announced Saturday that itÂ has suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephantsÂ outside the park.Â It was unclear how the new measures would be enforced or whether they went into effect before Jericho’s death.
“Following theÂ illegal killing of an iconic lion, Cecil …Â it has become necessary that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority further tightens hunting regulations” in areas outside the park, the organization said in a statement.Â Bow and arrow hunts have also been suspended unless they are approved by the wildlife authority.
The organizationÂ said it is investigating the death of another lion in April that may have been illegal and only recently came to light, the Associated Press reported.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was in contact with Palmer on Friday about Cecil’sÂ death.Â No formal charges have yet been filed, and the investigation is ongoing.
Zimbabwe wants toÂ extradite Palmer, Environmental MinisterÂ Oppah Muchinguri said earlier this week. The U.S. does have an extradition treaty with the African nation. In addition, if the wildlife service finds evidence ofÂ wrongdoing, it will passÂ its findings to the Department of Justice, which means Palmer could be tried in the U.S.
A beloved Zimbabwean cultural figure, Cecil was fitted with a GPS trackerÂ by a research program from theÂ University of Oxford to trace his movements throughoutÂ Hwange National Park.
Uncertainty remains for Cecil’s cubs, whom Jericho had been seen protecting. Male lions commonly kill the cubs of their rivals when they take over a pride.
“The natural law in lion society is that when a male dies and his weakened coalition is usurped, the new incoming males kill their predecessorsâ cubs. This may not happen because Cecilâs brother is still holding the fort,” Oxford’s DavidÂ Macdonald said in a statementÂ Thursday.
Contributing: Tyler Pager, Lori Grisham.