8 min read

Another Lion Was Just Killed In The Exact Same Way As Cecil The Lion

They even died on the same spot.

In 2015, the world was furious when Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, paid $55,000 to shoot and kill a beloved black-maned wild lion named Cecil, who lived in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. But what many people don’t realize is that lions like Cecil continue to be hunted and killed in the same park, including Cecil’s own son, Xanda, who was killed in 2017. The latest lion to die is a male named Kakori.

Kakori was a pride leader who was well-known to tour operators who take visitors into Hwange National Park. He had older cubs, and he’d just started mating with a new female, who is likely pregnant with Kakori’s future offspring.

Wild lion in the African bush
Kakori in Hwange National Park | Lions of Hwange National Park

Kakori also wore a collar, which had been put on him by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), a group that studies lions and other wild animals in Africa.

News of Kakori’s death was revealed earlier this week by a Facebook group called Lions of Hwange National Park.

“Kakori — taken at your prime from the home, you had the safety of growing up freely,” the group wrote in a post, accompanied by a video. “You are now just another skin and skull on the wall somewhere far away, being bragged over by a person who believes he is contributing to conservation.”

The actual killing is believed to have happened on June 2, a tour operator in Hwange National Park — who asked to stay anonymous for safety reasons — told The Dodo. WildCRU has also gotten Kakori’s collar back.

“Hwange National Park is not fenced, so they [the lions] are lured across to the hunting blocks,” said the tour operator, who explained that hunters use bait or audio recordings of distressed animals to entice lions like Kakori from the safe confines of the national park.

Kakori was also killed on Antoinette Farm, the same site where Cecil was killed, according to the tour operator.

Lion walking through tall grasses
Kakori walking through tall grasses in the national park | Sharon Stead

Killing a lion like Kakori is upsetting enough, but it’s also disruptive to the lion’s entire family, the tour operator explained.

“The females who are either impregnated or have cubs are then running out into the community areas, where they’re trying to hide their cubs from a new male coming in, who will kill the cubs,” the tour operator said. “Sometimes they’re lured by … cattle, which is easy prey, and than they become problem animals and they get shot. So you can see the spiral effect. When you take out one male lion … there’s huge devastation done.”

Kakori was killed “legally” with a hunting permit issued by Zimbabwe Parks and National Wildlife Authority (ZimParks), the governing body that also sets quotas for trophy hunting. But legal or not, hunting doesn’t make sense in a place in Hwange National Park, where lion populations have been steadily decreasing, the tour operator explained.

African lion in Hwange National Park
A lion living in Hwange National Park | Facebook/Drew Abrahamson

Sharon Stead, CEO of the Amalinda Safari Collection, believes that trophy hunting around Hwange National Park also has negative effects on tourism.

"Whilst I understand the role that hunting has in Zimbabwe, I personally feel that hunting iconic pride lions around Hwange National Park, especially those who are collared, is counterproductive to the species and the landscapes in which they play a roll,” Stead told The Dodo. “These lions have become relaxed around photographic vehicles, are born and bred in the park, and the consequence of them being removed from their social structure has far-reaching repercussions which is not deemed good conservation practice. They are known to photographic operators and their value to them, National Parks and our guests, who come to Africa to photograph these iconic species, has far more financial benefit then that of its trophy fee in the long term.”

African lion in savannah
A lion living in Hwange National Park | Facebook/World Heritage Species

The news of Kakori’s death comes shortly a hunter lured and killed another beloved male lion named Skye, who lived in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. And in Namibia, authorities recently shot a collared male lion named Gretzky after he killed some livestock — after killing Gretzky, the authorities skinned him and plan to sell his fur and bones for profit, according to a news report.

“It is irresponsible and completely unethical for trophy hunters to kill animals that have been collared for research,” Paul Oxton, founder of Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation, a conservation group based in South Africa, told The Dodo. “The animals are collared with the purpose of learning how to conserve a species. This is yet another example of how wealthy trophy hunters can pay to kill just about any wild animal they want for entertainment, regardless of having no true value towards the conservation of wild lions.”

To help stop hunting in Hwange National Park, you can contact Zimbabwe Parks and National Wildlife Authority.