JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug 2 – Zimbabwe wildlife authorities on Sunday dismissed rumours that a second lion, known as Jericho, had been slain after the killing last month of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter caused a global outcry.
“The lion known as Jericho is still alive and being monitored by Brent Stapelias of the Lion Research Project,” Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement.
“It is also important to note that Jericho is a ‘coalition’ partner to Cecil and not a blood related sibling,” it said.
The conservation group Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force had said 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 Walter Palmer’s killing of Zimbabwe’s best-known lion, renowned for his black mane, outside Hwange park.
But the Friends of Hwange Trust urged the public to treat the ZCTF’s announcement about Jericho with caution, saying the reports “appear to be untrue”. READ: US launches investigation into killing of ‘Cecil the lion’
Palmer, a wealthy Minnesota dentist, shot Cecil with a crossbow and arrow earlier this month during a hunt that cost him $55,000.
His guide, Theo Bronkhorst, has denied allegations that they spent the next 40 hours tracking the wounded animal before finishing him off with a gun. Instead he said they found the lion early the next morning and killed it with the crossbow.
Bronkhorst also strongly denied that the hunters had lured the animal out of Hwange.
Palmer, who is being investigated by the US government over Cecil’s death, has apologised and said he was misled by Bronkhorst.
But Bronkhorst told AFP on Friday that they had “shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age… I don’t think that I’ve done anything wrong”.