Zimbabwean Wildlife Authority: Jericho the Lion Is Alive, Not Cecil's Brother

Sunday, August 2, 2015
Zimbabwean Wildlife Authority: Jericho the Lion Is Alive, Not Cecil's Brother
In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Amid conflicting accounts on Saturday that Jericho, who was reported to be the 'brother' of Cecil the lion, was feared dead, a Zimbabwean wildlife authority has now said that Jericho is still alive.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the government authority on wildlife in Zimbabwe, said Sunday that Jericho is living and being monitored by Brent Stapelkamp of the Lion Research Project.

The authority also emphasized that Jericho is a 'coalition' partner to Cecil, not a blood-related sibling.

It released a photo of Jericho as of 7:06 a.m. on Sunday feeding with the pride.

Oxford University Department of Zoology/WildCRU, whose study lion was Cecil, also said that Jericho is alive and well. The department also mentioned that both Jericho and Cecil are not brothers, and that unrelated male lions form coalitions to defend their territories.

Earlier, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, which is not an official government agency, told ABC News Jericho was shot and killed Saturday at Hwange National Park.

"It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil's brother has been killed at 4pm today," the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a Facebook post. "We are absolutely heart broken."

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told ABC News Jericho was shot by a hunter and died at 4 p.m. local time, just a half hour after the park put out a statement at 3:30 p.m. announcing a ban on hunting all lions, leopards and elephants.

"The park released the statement at about 3:30, and not even half an hour later I got a phone call that Jericho was killed," Rodrigues said.

The death was confirmed by park employees, but the hunter was not in custody, Rodrigues said.

After Cecil's death, Jericho became the protector of his cubs, according to Rodrigues.

"The families had already united," he said.

The report of Jericho comes in the wake of Zimbabwe calling for the extradition of the American dentist who admitted killing Cecil in early July.

The process has already begun in Zimbabwe to extradite Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who admitted to killing Cecil, a cabinet minister said, according to the Associated Press.

"Unfortunately it was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher as he had already absconded to his country of origin," Zimbabwe's Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri said, according to the AP.

Muchinguri said they want Palmer to be "made accountable."

"Almost 500,000 people are calling for his extradition and we need this support," Muchinguri said. "We want him tried in Zimbabwe because he violated our laws."

There is an extradition treaty between Zimbabwe and the United States.

Muchinguri said Palmer violated the country's Parks and Wildlife Act, which controls the use of bow and arrow hunting. She also said Palmer, who reportedly paid $50,000 to hunt the lion, also violated the act through financing an illegal hunt. ABC News has been unable to confirm that figure independently.

Palmer said in a statement earlier this week that he "deeply" regretted the pursuit of the early July hunt in Zimbabwe that "resulted in the taking of this lion." He added that he "had no idea" Cecil the lion was a "known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study."

"I hired several professional guides and they secured all proper permits," Palmer said in his statement. "To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled and conducted."

Meanwhile, in the U.S., a petition to extradite Palmer began July 28, and quickly surpassed 100,000 signatures -- meaning the White House will have to respond.

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