Jericho no longer roars in sorrow over the loss of his brother Cecil, a rare black-maned lion whose killing in an illegal hunt in Zimbabwe last month sparked international outrage.
Jericho now occupies the position of father of the pride, taking over as protector of Cecil’s seven cubs while being monitored himself with an electronic tracking device in Hwange National Park, said Brent Stapelkamp, who heads an Oxford University lion-research project at the reserve.
“I think he has now come to terms with the fact that Cecil is no longer coming back,” said Stapelkamp in an interview on Thursday from Hwange. “During the first days, at night he used to make these strong deep contact calls trying to reach out to Cecil.”
Zimbabwe has requested the extradition of Walter Palmer, an American dentist who shot Cecil with a bow-and-arrow. Palmer has said he believed the hunt was legal. The 13-year-old lion was allegedly lured out of Hwange. The global positioning system, or GPS, tag worn by Cecil hasn’t been found, said Stapelkamp.
“Jericho is now the new king of the area which used to be controlled by Cecil,” Stapelkamp said. He raised a monitoring device in the air which emitted a faint beep, signaling that Jericho had probably traveled outside Hwange’s protected boundaries.
There are limits to safeguarding the animals over wide areas, Edson Chidziya, an official with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, said in an interview on Tuesday.
“The fact that the animal is collared does not mean the animal can’t be hunted, it just shows through research how the animal moves from one place to the other,” said Chidziya.
The southern African country has an estimated lion population of 2,000 roaming its national parks and private reserves. The government issues hunting quotas for as many as 70 lions every year.