Mystery shrouds the shoot­ing of Ce­cil’s son Zanda

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ADAM CRUISE

THE DEATH of Ce­cil’s son Xanda at the hands of tro­phy hunters on July 7 is mired in con­fu­sion. He was shot just out­side Zim­babwe’s Hwange Na­tional Park, near the spot his fa­ther had been killed by Amer­i­can bow hunt­ing den­tist, Wal­ter Palmer.

It was claimed that Xanda was shot legally as part of an ap­proved quota – seven lions are al­lowed to be hunted per year in the area out­side the park.

Yet, as with the death of his fa­ther, ques­tions have been raised sur­round­ing the cir­cum­stances of Xanda’s killing.

The lion, only 6 years old, was con­sid­ered fair game.

How­ever, he had a GPS col­lar and was the head of a pride with sev­eral cubs that resided within the pro­tec­tion of the na­tional park that pro­hibits hunt­ing.

A state­ment re­leased by the Zim­babwe Pro­fes­sional Hunters and Guides As­so­ci­a­tion stated that Xanda had been ousted from his pride and had moved per­ma­nently out of the park.

How­ever, this is con­tra­dicted by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Ox­ford who had been track­ing Xanda and say that the lion was the head of his own pride, con­sist­ing of three lionesses and had seven young cubs be­tween 12 and 18 months old.

It also seems clear that Xanda’s killing con­tra­venes the Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity pol­icy, which states that male lions of any age known to be head­ing prides or known to be part of a coali­tion head­ing prides with de­pen­dent cubs of 18 months old or less, should not be hunted. Nei­ther should any lion fit­ted with a col­lar.

As a re­sult, Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional (HSI), has sent a letter to Op­pah Muchin­guri, Zim­babwe’s min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­ment, water and cli­mate, call­ing on her gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate these ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Au­drey Delsink, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of HSI/Africa, said: “With so many ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties shroud­ing the killing of Xanda, we urge the gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe to hold the peo­ple in­volved in his death ac­count­able, if they are found to have acted in an il­le­gal man­ner.”

The death of Xanda also means that his seven off­spring face an un­likely fu­ture.

“Sadly, Xanda’s death means his cubs are vul­ner­a­ble to in­fan­ti­cide lead­ing to fur­ther un­nec­es­sary loss of an­i­mals al­ready threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion,” said Delsink.

There are fewer than 30 000 lions left in Africa and their range has been re­duced to 8% of what it was, pri­mar­ily as a re­sult from loss of habi­tat, poach­ing and poorly reg­u­lated tro­phy hunt­ing.

A re­port con­ducted by Econ­o­mists at Large found that tro­phy hunt­ing is not eco­nom­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant in African coun­tries, with the to­tal eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion of tro­phy hunters at most es­ti­mated at 0.03% of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct in the coun­tries stud­ied. Delsink said this lat­est in­ci­dent in Zim­babwe “just high­lights fur­ther the de­struc­tive na­ture of the tro­phy hunt­ing in­dus­try”.

“At min­i­mum, Zim­babwe must con­duct a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion and not al­low Xanda’s re­mains to leave the coun­try as a tro­phy.”

The HSI letter has also re­quested that Zim­babwe of­fi­cials bring le­gal ac­tion against the tro­phy hunters if war­ranted, pre­vent the ex­port of the tro­phy and es­tab­lish a 5km no-hunt­ing zone around Hwange Na­tional Park.

Muchin­guri did not com­ment on the letter, the Univer­sity of Ox­ford’s find­ings, or any­thing re­lated to Xanda’s death.

Shot just out­side Zim­babwe’s Hwange Na­tional Park

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