This post has been updated.
Reports that another lion in Cecil’s pride, Jericho, was illegally shot and killed in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe appear to be mistaken, but a conservation group says another lion has been killed.
On Saturday (Aug. 1), the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force posted on Facebook that it was “absolutely heart broken” to learn that Jericho was killed at 4pm local time. But a field researcher contacted subsequently contradicted the report.
“He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell,” Brent Stapelkamp, a researcher with the Hwange Lion Research Project, told Reuters.
Stapelkamp said he checked Jericho’s GPS tag once he heard the news. It showed Jericho was moving at 8:06pm, four hours after he was reportedly killed, and appeared to be with a female lion.
On Sunday (Aug. 2), the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force retracted its initial report on its Facebook page:
Mistaken Identity – Jericho is in fact alive and well and has adopted Cecil’s cubs. We were given 3 separate confirmed reports last night that is was Jericho. We could not reach the research station in Hwange to verify if Jericho was indeed alive after they reported that they were receiving signal from his collar.
We apologize for reporting that he had died but were confident that our sources were in fact correct. This was a case of mistaken identity, but a lion has in fact been killed…although we are relieved that it was not Jericho, we are not happy that yet another lion has been killed…
Though earlier articles, based on the conservation group’s post, said Jericho is Cecil’s brother, NPR reports that Jericho and Cecil are unrelated, citing Andrew Loveridge, another Hwange researcher.
Cecil was killed illegally, prompting an internet-fueled tsunami of outrage and hate directed at his hunter, Walker Palmer, an American dentist from Minnesota.
Earlier Saturday, Zimbabwe suspended the hunting of lions, leopards, and elephants in the area where Cecil was killed.