Anger after hunter shoots Cecil’s son
ZIMBABWE: A big-game hunter has shot and killed the son of Cecil the lion, whose death two years ago caused outrage around the world.
The lion, called Xanda, was shot outside the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe by a trophy hunter who was on safari with a licensed professional guide.
It is illegal to hunt inside the park but the animals are free to roam into adjoining reserves, where tourists travel from all over the world for the chance to shoot wild animals, including leopards, elephants and hippos.
Xanda, like Cecil, had been fitted with a radio collar by researchers from Oxford University. A spokesman for its wildlife conservation research unit said the professional guide on the safari, Richard Cooke, was ‘‘one of the good guys’’, who told the unit what had happened and had returned the collar.
Nonetheless, Xanda’s death has enraged conservationists.
‘‘We can’t believe that now, two years since Cecil was killed, that his oldest cub Xanda has met the same fate,’’ Lions of Hwange National Park, an online conservationist group, said. ’’When will the lions of Hwange National Park be left to live out their years as wild, born-free lions should?’’
Cecil was shot and wounded with a bow and arrow by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, in July 2015. It took Palmer’s guide 40 hours to track the lion, who was 13 years old, through the bush before he died. Palmer had to go into hiding and close his business after being dubbed the most hated man in America.
Xanda was six years old, according to Lions of Hwange, which claimed that Cooke had also killed one of Xanda’s brothers two years ago.
Dr Andrew Loveridge, from the department of zoology at Oxford University, insisted that Cooke was an ‘‘ethical’’ hunter.
‘‘His hunt was legal and Xanda was over six years old, so it is all within the stipulated regulations.’’
The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association said a hunting safari was ‘‘intended to provide the best opportunity to harvest top-quality animals in a lawful, fair and sportsmanlike manner’’. The association’s website says: ‘‘Hunters should be hunting for mature male specimens only.’’
About 200,000 lions used to roam across Africa, but the population has plummeted to 20,000, according to the Panthera charity, largely because of habitat loss due to human population growth. Cattle herders often poison the carcasses of cows to kill the lions that eat them.
In 2011, the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that 64 per cent of lions killed for sport between 1999 and 2008 had been transported to the United States.
– The Times