Jericho, the brother of Cecil the lion, has been shot by illegal poachers in a park in Zimbabwe.
“It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil’s brother has been killed at 4 pm today,” the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a statement Saturday. “We are absolutely heartbroken.”
Jericho is believed to have been gunned down during an illegal hunting operation in Hwange National Park on Saturday afternoon, The Daily Mail reported.
The news comes just weeks after the beloved Cecil the lion was killed by American dentist Walter Palmer.
Jericho was protecting Cecil’s cubs after the lion was killed. With the uncle’s death, Cecil’s cubs and the remaining lionesses have been left extremely vulnerable.
Cecil’s cubs were alive and well as of Friday, Zimbabwe’s Director of National Parks and Wildlife Edson Chidziya said, the New York Daily News reported.
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The latest killing comes as Zimbabwean wildlife authorities announced the suspension of hunting lions, leopards and elephants where Cecil was killed.
Cecil was allegedly lured out of the protected wildlife reserve by Mr. Palmer and his local tour guides before he was shot and killed.
Mr. Palmer reportedly paid $55,000 to hunt the lion, who was wearing a GPS collar as part of a research project run by Oxford University.
In a statement, Mr. Palmer said he regretted killing Cecil but that he had hired professional guides and believed all the necessary hunting permits were in order.