Scientists Finally Disclose Cecil Not Lured from Park

I came across this article in a Hunting Forum and wanting to share it with you all, as we still receive emails/messages regarding this lion hunt (aka. Cecil):

Cecil The Lion
Scientists Finally Disclose Cecil Not Lured from Park
Written By John J. Jackson III, Conservation Force Chairman & President
(posted June 10, 2016)

WILDCRU, The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit based at Oxford University that collared and satellite tracked Cecil has just published an article revealing that Cecil was not lured out of the Hwange National Park by Dr. Palmer and/or his PH. It also discloses that Cecil was in a core area he occupied outside of the park when hunted. The lion's home range was far outside of the park.

To quote the article by David W. Macdonald, et al. Cecil: A Moment or a Movement? Analysis of Media Coverage of the Death of a Lion, Panthera Leo. Animals 2016, 6, 26; doc: 10.3392, the lion had been collared and satellite tracked since 2009. Cecil was one of "65 lions that were hunted on the land surrounding the Protected Area, 45 of them were equipped with tracking devices."

"It was reported (incorrectly) to have been lured by bait out of the park..." The lion was hunted on bait out of the park. The lion was hunted on a bait, but not lured from the park as some media accounts have implied; the area was part of the lion's normal range. The ranch where the hunt took place was within the "home range" of the lion during the prior months (April, May, June) until arrowed July 1st at approximately 22:00. The hunt finished "approximately 250 cm from where he was initially wounded." That was 9 am the next morning.

Analysis: The lion's "home range" from April until hunted on July 1 was as much outside of the park as in the park. He was not "lured out of the park by dragging bait from the park..." That was wholly fabricated in the early reports and continues to be misrepresented today. That inflammatory fabrication was heightened by other false reports that are not noted in the article. One media source was threatened with government sanctions for misrepresentations. Another story about the killing of Jericho, "Cecil's Brother" by another hunter within the park was also wholly concocted. Jericho was not the brother of Cecil. Jericho was not killed at all, and therefore not "killed by a hunter in the park."

The false report that one of Cecil's cubs had been killed was also alarming. The cub was not likely to have been Cecil's and still survives today.

There was the suggestion by all that the killing of a collared lion was in itself illegal. Not so; most lion taken for over a decade in the area were collared, 45 of the 65. One of the purposes of the collaring research was to determine the causes of the morality of the pride lion.

Editorial and social media both carried the message that lion were in danger of extinction. Not true by any stretch of the imagination. The lion quota was extremely low, cautionary, and scientifically based. The local communities and hunting operators had been incentivized by the safari hunting revenue to shepherd the lion as potential trophies instead of livestock-eating vermin. Yours truly had made an in-person appeal to the conservancy land owners adjoining the park to take down the livestock fences, eliminate the cattle, and let the lions grow to be more valuable trophies. But for that approach Cecil may have never been born, and surely would not have lived to a scruffy old 13 years of age. Following the suggested changes, the lion population in the park increased from 300-400 to 800 with a growing "resident population" outside of the park boundaries at the time Cecil was taken.

There should no longer be any doubt that fabrications, apparent illegality, and ignorance made "a perfect storm" that otherwise would not have been a rational reaction. Let's hope that lion conservation and the good people that must tolerate lion don't bear the costs of the fabricated storytelling.

Thanks for following along, Sarah Cox.

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