Experts: Cecil's Death Could Doom 10 Lion Cubs

Dead lion's cubs are now vulnerable to infanticide from nearby male lions
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2015 4:42 AM CDT
Experts: Cecil's Death Could Doom 10 Lion Cubs
A few of Cecil the lion's cubs.   (

The death of Zimbabwe's beloved lion Cecil, killed by Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer, could spark a "cascade of effects" that ultimately result in the deaths of 10 cubs in Cecil's pride. So say University of Oxford conservation experts who've been tracking one of the continent's most photographed lions for seven years, reports NBC News. First Cecil's brothers are now at risk as rival male lions seek to take over the pride, which may lead to "the overthrow of his weakened coalition, and subsequently the death of his cubs," says David MacDonald, the founding director of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which tracks lions. Cecil's death is a particular blow for MacDonald, who says his team "watched him for hours, indeed weeks, months, and years. Cecil was simply a magnificent lion."

In terms of what's next for Palmer, the US and Zimbabwe do have an extradition treaty, but the Department of Justice has only said that it is "aware of the situation," reports Time. A US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson says the service is "deeply concerned" about the killing and investigating further. Just last year the service proposed listing lions as an endangered species, and said in a statement, "It is up to all of us—not just the people of Africa—to ensure that healthy, wild populations of animals continue to roam the savanna for generations to come." Meanwhile former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has joined a slew of celebrities mourning Cecil's death by tweeting a photograph of herself hugging the lion when he was a cub, reports the Daily Mirror. Meeting the cat was "one of the most memorable moments of my life," she wrote. (See how Cecil was lured to his death.)

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