An environmental crime committed in the heart of Africa! Cecil the Lion, one of the most famous animals in Zimbabwe, has been shot dead by a hunter who allegedly paid $50,000 for the opportunity to kill an endangered breed of lions, captive at the Hwange national park.
Perhaps, the lion's murder would not have been noticed or garnered international coverage if the lion had not been wearing a GPS collar. Cecil became the focus of an Oxford University research project started in 1999, which traced the lion and recorded the last movements when it left the park bleeding from a bow and arrow shot.
Dear Tourists.When photographing our beloved wildlife make sure to check back on them. Wondering if the tourists know…Posted by International Animal Rescue Foundation World Action South Africa on Friday, July 10, 2015
Hunters used rather common bait, a freshly killed animal, to lure and shoot the star of the Zimbabwean national reserve outside the park.
"Cecil's death is a tragedy, not only because he was a symbol of Zimbabwe but because now we have to give up for dead his six cubs, as a new male won't allow them to live so as to encourage Cecil's three females to mate, "said the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, a non-profit charity focused on the conservation and preservation of wildlife in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association (ZPHGA) stated that the professional hunter involved in the killing had a membership in the Association and was immediately excluded.
#Cecil the lion. Magnificent animal killed at the hands of the worst beast walking this planet…Man.— Sarah (@g_c19941) July 26, 2015
"ZPHGA reiterates that it will not tolerate illegal hunting or other unethical practices by any of its members," the organization said.
An unnamed professional hunter admitted it was him and his foreign client who had killed the animal; however, he refused to recognize that the lion was "well-known".
"It was a magnificent, mature lion. We did not know it was well-known lion. I had a licence for my client to shoot a lion with a bow and arrow in the area where it was shot," he said.
The following day the hunter reported the "mistake" to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. His identity has not been officially confirmed, however it is believed the hunter has Spanish nationality.
The head of Cecil hasn't been found yet but Zimbabwean authorities keep searching, while suggesting the head could already have been taken abroad as a trophy.