One of Cecil the Lion’s cubs has been shot dead by a big game trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, just two years after his father was killed in similar circumstances.
The six-year-old lion named Xanda, who was in his prime, was killed just outside the Hwange National Park in north west Zimbabwe, not far from where Cecil was killed in 2015.
His death was discovered because Xanda was wearing an an electronic collar, fitted by researchers monitoring his movements in the area.
When the Zimbabwean professional hunter on the shoot, Richard Cooke from RC Safaris, discovered the dead lion had a collar, he handed it back to the researchers.
Andrew Loveridge from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, which has a team supplying and fixing collars which monitor the lions in the Hwange National Park, said: “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.
“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.”
Mr Loveridge said he hoped that there would soon be a 5km exclusion zone around the Hwange National Park so that hunters would no longer accidentally shoot collared lions that wonder outside the boundary of the Park.
Cecil the Lion had wandered outside of the Park to the area of his birth, close to the boundary.
Mr Cooke, a well known professional hunter who lives in Victoria Falls, did not answer his phones on Thursday and has not yet revealed the name of his client. But most lion shooters are from the US, UK, Germany or South Africa.
The client may have paid about £40 000 for the shoot and for Xanda’s head to be cured and mounted and sent to him wherever he lives.
Cecil the Lion’s death on July 1, 2015, caused global outrage and threw a spotlight on trophy hunting in Africa.
The Telegraph broke the news that Walter James Palmer, a 55-year-old dentist from Minnesota, US, was discovered to have paid US$65,000 (about £50,000 in today’s exchange rate) to shoot and kill the much-loved lion with a bow and arrow.
He was forced to abandon his practice in suburban Minneapolis for weeks amid an international outcry over his actions.
Conservation groups in Zimbabwe and around the world reacted angrily too – partly because the Cecil was known to visitors and seemingly enjoyed human contact, and partly because of the way in which he was killed.
The 13-year-old big cat and shot at night near his birth place, close to the national park. He didn’t die immediately and was tracked down the following day and finished off.
His head was curing in Bulawayo in preparation to be dried and mounted when police seized it. Charges against Dr Palmer were later withdrawn.
Following the incident, many US hunters cancelled trips to Zimbabwe as the massive level of negative media coverage dominated headlines for weeks.
However, some have begun returning to Zimbabwe as the US ban on the importation of trophies has been lifted.
More then 70 per cent of funds to safeguard Zimbabwe’s wildlife and catch poachers comes from revenue from professional hunters.