Zimbabwe’s Most Famous Lion Beheaded By Rich Tourists

Cecil the lion was killed outside of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park by a group of tourists on Safari, authorities say. The 13-year-old lion wore a GPS collar and was part of an Oxford University research project. His body was found beheaded and skinned on private property adjacent to the vast African wilderness preserve.

Source: Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4a2htZ2wIQ
Source: Youtube

Cecil was a much-loved resident of the Hwange National Park, by visitors and employees alike. The anger over his death is fueled by the fact that Cecil didn’t die immediately. Instead, it is being reported that he was shot with a crossbow and then tracked for 40 hours until being finished off with a gun.

Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said Cecil was allegedly killed by a Spaniard who paid $55,000 USD, but it is believed that as many as three foreign hunters were involved. Said Rodrigues:

“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. The two people who accompanied the hunter have been arrested but we haven’t yet tracked down the hunter, who is Spanish.”

The leader of the safari, who was a member of The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association, has been arrested and suspended indefinitely from the association.

The Spanish conservation organization Chelui4lions has written to Cites de España, the group that oversees the import of endangered species, asking it to prevent the importing of Cecil’s head as a trophy. Said Luis Muñoz, a Chelui4lions spokesman:

“What hunter, what sort of demented person, would want to kill a magnificent adult lion, known to and photographed by all the park’s visitors? We’re ashamed of the fact that in Spain there are rich madmen who pay for the pleasure of killing wild animals such as lions.”

The killing occurred earlier this month and has only just come to light. It has caused outrage in Zimbabwe and came only days after the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force revealed that 27 elephant calves had been separated from their herds in Hwange and sent to zoos in China and the United Arab Emirates. The Zimbabwean government insists the trade is legal and measures are in place to guarantee the animals’ well being.

That guarantee is doing little to address the fears and anger of people all over the world, though, especially now that the news of Cecil’s death has been made public. Cecil was a majestic lion whose presence in the park brought in thousands of visitors every year. The fact that one rich tourist wanted to track, torture, behead, and skin Cecil is disgusting and heartbreaking, and we can only hope that the deranged individuals responsible for his death will be brought to justice.

UPDATE: The alleged shooter has been identified. Read the update here.