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Xanda, Son Of Cecil The Lion, Also Killed

Cecil the lion, photographed in 2013, was killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015. Two years later, his son Xanda came to the same end nearby.
Sean Herbert
Cecil the lion, photographed in 2013, was killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015. Two years later, his son Xanda came to the same end nearby.

It appears that the 6-year-old son of Cecil the lion has met with the same fate as his father, two years after the famed lion's killing at the hands of a trophy hunter sparked a global outcry.

Xanda was killed near Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park on July 7, according to the Oxford scientists who were tracking him with a GPS collar like the one they used to track his father.

"Xanda was one of these gorgeous Kalahari lions, with a big mane, big body, beautiful condition — a very, very lovely animal," said Dr. Andrew Loveridge, a senior research fellow with Oxford's Department of Zoology, who fitted the tracking collar to Xanda. A Kalahari lion is a subspecies native to the savanna region in southern Africa.

The range of Xanda's pride extended beyond the protected confines of the park. He was shot just about a mile outside, where lions can legally be killed, say the scientists who studied him.

They are calling for a no-hunting zone of 3 miles around the park to better protect all the lions.

In a statement sent to NPR, the team said it was saddened by Xanda's killing.

After he was shot, a professional hunter leading the group found that he was wearing a collar and handed it back to the Oxford researchers, reports The Telegraph.

It is not clear who in the hunting party pulled the trigger.

Because of where Xanda was killed and because he was older than 6, it was legal, reports the newspaper.

Nevertheless, Xanda's death spurred a passionate social media outcry.

When Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil outside of his protected habitat in Hwange National Park in the summer of 2015, the backlash was swift and severe.

He was never charged, but protesters assailed Palmer on social media and outside his dental practice, which he had to shut down for a time.

Palmer apologized but saidhe relied on his local guide to ensure a legal hunt, and he had no idea that 13-year-old Cecil was collared or a local celebrity.

As Scott Neuman of The Two-Way reported, Cecil's death helped spur the United Nations to adopt "its first-ever resolution to combat illicit trafficking in wildlife."

In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Cecil's species as endangered, making it harder for American hunters to import African lion trophies.

Xanda belonged to a pride of three female lions and seven cubs, says Oxford University's WildCRU conservation team, which is tracking more than 100 lions in Hwange National Park and monitoring 500 others to better understand the threats they face.

In total, there are fewer than 30,000 lions remaining in Africa, says the group, and in many regions, their numbers are dwindling.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Amy Held is an editor on the newscast unit. She regularly reports breaking news on air and online.