Zimbabwe says its second 'celebrity lion' is still alive

An image of Cecil the lion, which was killed by a wealthy Minnesota dentist last month, was projected onto the Empire State Building to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals.
An image of Cecil the lion, which was killed by a wealthy Minnesota dentist last month, was projected onto the Empire State Building to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals.PHOTO: REUTERS

JOHANNESBURG • The Zimbabwe wildlife authorities have dismissed rumours that a second lion, known as Jericho, had been slain after the killing of Cecil the lion last month by an American trophy hunter caused a global outcry.

"The lion known as Jericho is still alive and being monitored," Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said yesterday.

It added: "It is also important to note that Jericho is a 'coalition' partner to Cecil and not a blood-related sibling."

The conservation group Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force had said last Saturday that it had been "informed" of the death of Jericho, described as Cecil's brother.

The announcement was swiftly picked up by global media, causing consternation among animal lovers who were outraged by Dr Walter Palmer's killing of Cecil, Zimbabwe's best-known lion.

PLOY TO BAN HUNTING

I don't foresee any jail sentence at all. I think it's been blown out of proportion by social media and I think it's been a deliberate ploy to ban all hunting.

GUIDE THEO BRONKHORST

Dr Palmer, a wealthy Minnesota dentist, shot Cecil with a crossbow last month. He is now being investigated by the US government.

After global outrage, Dr Palmer released a statement saying he had no idea the lion was protected and that he was misled by his guide, Mr Theo Bronkhorst.

But Mr Bronkhorst said last Friday they had "shot an old male lion that I believed was past its breeding age... I don't think that I've done anything wrong".

Mr Bronkhorst, who was charged last week with "failing to prevent an illegal hunt", claimed he and Dr Palmer had been "devastated" when they realised Cecil was wearing a collar.

"We had done everything above board," Mr Bronkhorst said.

"I don't foresee any jail sentence at all. I think it's been blown out of proportion by social media and I think it's been a deliberate ploy to ban all hunting," he added.

Last Saturday, a picture of Cecil was among images projected onto the Empire State Building in New York to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals.

Zimbabwe has called for Dr Palmer's extradition.

Last week, Zimbabwe's parks authority announced restrictions on hunting around Hwange National Park, including an immediate suspension of the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants.

Meanwhile, another hunter, an American named Jan Casmir Sieski, is suspected of killing a lion in Zimbabwe when he was there in April, said the parks authority.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'Zimbabwe says its second 'celebrity lion' is still alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe