Conflicting reports have come out of Zimbabwe.
A group called the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a nonprofit organization working on conservation in the region, posted the news of the lion’s alleged demise in a Facebook post, which was first reported by CNN.
However, Brent Stapelkamp, field researcher for the Hwange Lion Research Project, who is monitoring Jericho via GPS tracking, told Reuters: “He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell.”
When I heard that report, I had a look on the computer and his movements look regular. He sent a GPS point from his collar from 8:06 p.m. (02:06 p.m. EDT). Everything looks fine.
Trevor Lane of conservation group the Bhejane Trust, which works with Hwange National Park, told the Guardian via email that Jericho was seen with a female, “probably mating.”
Others, including reporter David Rose, are sharing screenshots of the lion’s whereabouts in Zimbabwe—according to that data, he seems OK.
The killing of Cecil the lion, a well-known animal and tourist attraction in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, sparked global outrage, especially across social media. Walter Palmer, the American who killed Cecil with a bow and arrow, is now facing the possibility of extradition to Zimbabwe, where he could face up to 10 years in prison.
After Cecil died, the responsibility of protecting six lionesses and a dozen cubs fell solely on Jericho. When Cecil was killed, Animal Planet’s predator expert David Salmoni described the dire situation of the remaining pride:
If one lion is shot from the coalition, it weakens the coalition and results not just in the death of that one lion, but the death, probably, of his companions, because the weakened coalition will be overtaken by the stronger coalition which in turn will kill the cubs of their predecessors. So it may well be that the death of just one lion leads to the deaths of several more, and for a species that is declining fast, that is very bad news.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force has not released any further statements.
Update 3:42pm CT, Aug. 2: David Macdonald, director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, says a field research team set out this morning to find Jericho, after seeing reports that he’d been killed. He provided a photo of the lion and had this to say: “Jericho was seen alive and well at 06.15am. He has been feeding on a giraffe kill with the lionesses from his pride.”
Photo via pius_mahimbi/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)