Jericho the lion 'alive and well' in Zimbabwe
Jericho the lion, who it had been claimed was shot dead yesterday by poachers at a park in Zimbabwe, is "alive and well", conservationists have confirmed.
Researchers from Oxford University who monitor the cat provided a picture to show that reports of his death by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) had been mistaken.
Jericho was a close ally of Cecil the lion, whose killing by a US dentist last month sparked worldwide outrage.
Professor David Macdonald, director of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) said: "Jericho is alive and well.
"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.
"Jericho was seen alive and well at 6.15am. He has been feeding on a giraffe kill with the lionesses from his pride."
Prof Macdonald said that Jericho, who is about 11 years old, was not related by blood to Cecil, dispelling claims by the ZCTF that they were brothers.
But he added: "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."
Zimbabwe is seeking the extradition of American dentist Walter Palmer, from Minnesota, for illegally hunting 13-year-old Cecil.
The country's wildlife authorities have suspended the hunting of lions, leopards and elephants in an area favoured by hunters.
Bow and arrow hunts have also been suspended unless they are approved by the National Parks and Wildlife Authority's director.
The death of another lion in April is being investigated after the authority received information this week.
ZCTF said in a statement posted on Facebook that their claim that Jericho had been killed at Hwange National Park had been a case of "mistaken identity".
The statement said: " Jericho is in fact alive and well and has adopted Cecil's cubs.
"We were given three separate confirmed reports last night that is 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 apologise for reporting that he had died but were confident that our sources were in fact correct."
An American doctor was behind the illegal killing of a lion around Hwange National Park in April, according to Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Dr Jan Casimir Seski, a gynaecological oncologist from Pennsylvania, allegedly killed the lion with a bow and arrow.
It is claimed that he also posed for pictures next to other killed animals including elephants, an impala, a kudu, a Nyala, a hippo and an ostrich.
Dr Seski directs the Centre for Bloodless Medicine and Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.