HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) –Zimbabwe wildlife authorities have dismissed a report of the shooting death of a male lion who was a companion of Cecil, a well-known lion killed by an American hunter in early July.
The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority released a photograph of the lion named Jericho that it said was taken Sunday morning.
A statement from the authority says Jericho “is still alive and being monitored” by Brent Stapelkamp, who is following Jericho’s movements with the help of a satellite collar on the lion.
Stapelkamp said Cecil and Jericho oversaw two prides together.
Saturday afternoon, several news outlets, including CNN, NBC News and USA Today, reported Jericho the lion also was illegally killed in Zimbabwe.
According to CNN, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force reported on its Facebook page at 4 p.m. local time that Jericho had been killed. An officer from the task force also had confirmed the killing. However, an Oxford University researcher tracking Jericho told the outlet the lion was alive and moving as of 8 p.m. local time Saturday.
According to CNN, the GPS device used to track Jericho didn’t suggest anything out of the ordinary.
Cecil the lion’s killing sparked an international uproar after the beloved feline was lured out of a national park, killed, skinned and beheaded last week by an American hunter and two local guides. USA Today also reported Jericho recently had been seen protecting Cecil’s orphaned cubs.
The two Zimbabweans, a professional hunter and a farm owner, have been arrested. Zimbabwe authorities are working with the United States government to extradite Walter Palmer back to the African country to face potential charges for the alleged trophy kill.
Following the public outcry, Zimbabwe has suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in the area where Cecil was killed. Wildlife authorities said it was necessary to tighten hunting regulations following Cecil’s death, and they hope the incident raises awareness to the country’s regulations.
“The outrage over Cecil could have helped because people are now more aware and ready to come with information,” Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife conservation director Geoffrey Matipano told The Associated Press.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.