Holy Harambe, how could they?! A group of trophy hunters in Zimbabwe shot and killed Xanda, the son of the beloved Cecil the Lion who was killed in a similar fashion by a disgraced Minnesota dentist, in almost the same spot where his father died.
Officials at the Hwange National Park confirmed the sad news in a Facebook post on Thursday, noting that the majestic 6-year-old – who had his own family of young cubs – had been fatally shot earlier this week.
“Today we heard that a few days ago, Xanda, the son of #CecilTheLion has been shot on a trophy hunt by Zimbabwe PH Richard Cooke,” the post read. “Cooke also killed Xanda’s brother in 2015, he was only about 4 years old then.”
“Xanda is still a young father at 6.2 years old and has several young cubs,” the post continued. “We can’t believe that now, 2 years since Cecil was killed, that his oldest Cub #Xanda has met the same fate.”
“When will the Lions of Hwange National Park be left to live out their years as wild born free lions should…?” the post concluded.
Xanda was killed as part of an expedition put on by professional hunter Richard Cooke, who did not fire the fatal shot himself, The Washington Post reported. Instead, the lion was downed by a client during a “legally sanctioned hunt.”
While it is not uncommon for big cats in the area to be killed for sport, Cecil the Lion’s death rose to global prominence due to a number of unusual factors, not the least of which was the fact that he was nearly 13 years old when he was killed by a wealthy American.
Xanda’s death has researchers concerned about the fate of his offspring, as he was the head male of his pride.
“New males, they take stock, and the first thing they do almost inevitably is kill all the cubs belonging to the previous males,” said Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation offier of the global wild cat organization Panthera. “They just can’t afford to be stepdads … by removing the cubs, the females come back into season much, much sooner.”