23 July 2017

Zimbabwe: Zim Parks Authority Disputes Xanda the Lion's Link to Cecil

Photo: Varnent
Cecil the Lion (file photo).

Zimbabwe's state parks authority says there's no DNA evidence to link Xanda the lion to Cecil, after Xanda was killed by a hunter near Hwange National Park.

But a scientist has told News24 there's another intriguing way of confirming Xanda really is a cub of his famous father.

News of the July 7 killing of Xanda, a six-year old lion with cubs of his own, emerged this week, reigniting outrage over trophy hunting around the borders of Hwange National Park where he lived.

Tinashe Farawo, a spokesperson for the wildlife management authority (Zimparks) told state ZBC radio that although the incident was "unfortunate", the hunt was legal.

The spokesperson also said there was "no evidence" linking Xanda to Cecil, who died two years ago at the hands of US hunter Walter Palmer.

But a scientist who runs a research project monitoring lions in Hwange told News24 there's another intriguing way of confirming Xanda's identity - unique whisker spots on the lion's muzzle.

"This pattern, like a fingerprint, does not change throughout their lives," said zoologist Andrew Loveridge, from Oxford University.

"This is how we know Xanda was Cecil's son as we have ID records from when he was a cub in Cecil's pride."

He added: "The research project keeps detailed records of pride structures - and Cecil's pride was well studied."


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