Jericho the lion is not dead after officials initially believed he was killed by poachers on Saturday in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Jericho shared an unbreakable bond with a lion named Cecil, who died a few weeks ago after he was shot by a bow an arrow from an American dentist, sparking worldwide outrage.
According to Washington Post, Jericho is not only alive and well, he and Cecil were never blood brothers as previously thought. A statement from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit explains the confusion with Jericho and Cecil being related.
“Many people have asked if Jericho and Cecil were brothers. They were not related though their bond was one close to brotherhood. Male lions often form what are termed co-operative ‘coalitions’ with unrelated males in order to better compete with other males for territories and prides. In fact 42% of male lion coalitions are genetically unrelated, though larger coalitions tend to be brothers or half-brothers. This sort of detailed understanding of lion ecology and social behaviour, which takes years of meticulous work allows conservationists to devise the most appropriate conservation strategies to conserve these iconic cats.”
The organization also released a statement regarding the alleged death of Jericho.
“Last night we were surprised to see rumours of the death of a second lion, Jericho, circulating in the media – we had no evidence for this. The rumours claimed he too had been hunted illegally. The WildCRU field research team and a National Parks ranger set out at daybreak to attempt to find him. People will realise that even with the aid of tracking equipment, this is difficult and skilful work in remote bush. Andy Loveridge contacted me moments ago. Jericho was seen alive and well at 06.15am. He has been feeding on a giraffe kill with the lionesses from his pride. Jericho is large male lion, about 11 years old, who has been intensively monitored as part of our detailed study of lion behavioural ecology in Hwange National Park. WildCRU’s Brent Stapelkamp was able to get the attached photo of Jericho.”
After the death of Cecil, Jericho succeeded him as the alpha male of the pack, although they were not brothers, as the wildlife agency explained in the passage above. Since the death of Cecil, the biggest concern was whether Jericho would protect Cecil’s cubs or kill them, something very common in lion prides. However, it seems that Jericho chose to protect and “adopt them” as his own.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force issued a statement via Facebook clarifying the issue.
“Jericho is in fact alive and well and has adopted Cecil’s cubs. We were given 3 separate confirmed reports last night that it was Jericho. We could not reach the research station in Hwange to verify if Jericho was indeed alive after they reported that they were receiving signal from his collar.
We apologize for reporting that he had died but were confident that our sources were in fact correct. This was a case of mistaken identity, but a lion has in fact been killed…although we are relieved that it was not Jericho, we are not happy that yet another lion has been killed…”