In an entirely unexpected turn of events, Cecil the lion’s cubs are being protected by his brother, which comes as a huge relief, as there were fears that they would be killed by a male rival.
The now-famous lion was killed earlier this month by American dentist Walter Palmer, prompting a huge outrage around the world.
After Cecil’s death, there were fears among researchers that his cubs would be killed by the next lion to come to dominance in the pride, so he could father his own offspring with the females. (Scroll down for the video.
1. A couple of Cecil’s cubs are seen relaxing in the Hwange national park back in 2012. It was initially feared that the cubs would be killed if another male lion took over the pride.
2. Cecil the lion (right) fights with his brother Jericho in May last year. Since his death, there have been fears that his cubs would be killed by a rival male, but they are reportedly being guarded by Cecil’s brother.
But a team at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Unit, which had been studying Cecil and his pride since well before the tragedy, said the dead lion’s brother Jericho is now protecting the young. Project leader David Macdonald said:
The natural law in lion society is that when a male dies and his weakened coalition is usurped, the new incoming males kill their predecessors’ cubs.
This may not happen because Cecil’s brother is still holding the fort.
3. Cecil the lion (right, darker mane) is fighting with Jericho at the Ngweshla Picnic site at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
4. Palmer is now under investigation after he admitted killing the lion in Zimbabwe this month.
Earlier this week, Macdonald himself had warned that Cecil’s untimely death could cause a “cascade of other deaths”. He said:
At a personal level as I have watched this lion… and gloried in his magnificence and beauty. I was very deeply saddened by this.
To the extent that it was illegal it was completely reprehensible.
But I hope that some good might come out of it in terms of raising the profile of lion conservation around the world.
Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, has confirmed that Jericho has been keeping the cubs safe from any rival males.
5. Cecil the lion with his pride.
Rodrigues added that, if the pride were to be taken over by another male and the cubs killed, that would have happened several weeks ago, right after Cecil was killed.
Palmer has admitted killing the 13-year-old big cat, who had been fitted with a GPS collar as part of the Oxford University study.
However, the dentist said in a statement that he had hired professional guides and had all the necessary hunting permits to do what he did.
Palmer has not been seen since his identity was revealed by Zimbabwean conservationists earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has called today for Palmer to be extradited from the United States, after accusing the dentist of illegally killing the famous cat.
6. Cecil’s cubs — his legacy.
Share this story with your friends and your thoughts in the comments below. Retweet it to your Twitter followers — they would want to read that, too.