News up-date on the Cecil Appeal from David Macdonald

August 1, 2015

We continue to be in awe of the up-welling of concern globally following the illegal shooting of Cecil, and inspired by the interest that millions of people are taking in the conservation research that Dr Andy Loveridge and I direct in Hwange, in collaboration with Zimbabwe’s National Parks Authority. We are humbled by your support of our work, and of our mission, and deeply grateful. I feel that this global response is truly unique, and as such sends a signal that transcends the sad death of one lion and trumpets, inspirationally, hope not only for the conservation of lions in Africa but of wildlife worldwide.The future of wildlife hinges on it being valued. As I have repeated on countless interviews in recent days, modern conservation is as much about people and their well-being as it is about wildlife and its well-being: it is about finding evidence-based solutions that enable humanity to live alongside the nature which it treasures and on which it may depend – everybody is a stake-holder in the environment, so it is right that everybody should care about it: it is a wonderful memorial for Cecil if worldwide people are saying, loudly, that they do care.

I have some good news from the field. Andy Loveridge is there, and the team is working tirelessly. Cecil’s coalition involved a partnership with another beautiful male, nicknamed Jericho. Jericho is as likely as Cecil to be the father of some of the cubs, so he has a stake in their survival. Right now, Jericho is in good health and he (and the lionesses) will defend the cubs. We have no evidence of any new coalition threatening them so there is a good chance that all will be well. Meanwhile, to ensure we learn as much as possible about the social effects of Cecil’s death, the team is going to put a new satellite collar on at least one lioness.

By the way, several people has asked us whether it was not obvious that Cecil was in trouble when he left the park and stopped moving. The answer is no, it was not. Cecil’s home range extended well beyond the park’s boundary and he regularly left the park and eventually he was shot well within his routine home range. Also, when lions make a kill they often sleep off the meal for several days, so a stationary satellite tag is not in itself unusual. In this case, the collar suddenly stopped working, which is what alerted the team that something was amiss, whereupon the Parks and Wildlife Authority instantly began to investigate.

This morning I gave an interview for the Warren Pierce show in the USA – it may answer some more of your questions and is available here

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