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How Cecil lived.

Cecil the Lion

Cecil the Lion by Daughter#3 (Cecil) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone’s heard the story of how Cecil the lion died. Technology enables us to understand how he lived.

From 2008 until his death last week, Cecil wore a satellite-tracked radio collar. David Macdonald and Andy Loveridge of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University monitored Cecil’s movements and got an intimate look at what it’s like to be a male lion in the wild.

They’ve just published a history of Cecil’s life from the time he was first collared in 2008. According to Andy Loveridge, “…lion society makes ‘Game of Thrones’ look tame…” (And the story of how Cecil and his pal Jericho became allies rivals just about any plot written by Shakespeare.)

We wouldn’t know much about Cecil’s life without the technology that made it possible for the researchers to track him over many years. David Macdonald, writing on the WCRU website, says:

When you read this detail, and imagine that we have followed these private lives in remote bush, often working at night, you will start to understand the challenges of our work, and why reliable satellite tracking devices and functional off-road vehicles are vital to us. Lions are fascinating, and there is still so much to learn that will help underpin solutions to their conservation.

Macdonald was interviewed last week by Heather McElhatton for “A Beautiful World”:

And a little good news…

The tragic death of Cecil has raised awareness about trophy hunting and the great decline in the lion population—and it’s also raising a lot of money to help conservation efforts. A news update from David Macdonald on July 31st:

I have wonderful news for all those following the story of Cecil, and our work for lion conservation in Zimbabwe and beyond. Overnight, thousands of donors worldwide brought the total of the Cecil Appeal to £300,000. This is stupendous my colleague Andy Loveridge and I are overwhelmed and inspired. There is more. Minutes ago I spoke to American philanthropist Tom Kaplan and his wife Daphne who have been loyal supporters of the WildCRU’s work, and told them of my hope that the total appeal could reach £500,000. Tom and Daphna immediately pledged $100,000 to match, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, each donation that comes in from this minute as a stimulus to reaching that total. We are grateful beyond measure for their generosity, and that of every single one of our donors, big or small.

May Cecil’s legacy be the end of trophy hunting and the eradication of poaching worldwide.

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