2002 – 1 July 2015) was a male Southwest African lion (Panthera leo bleyenberghi) who lived primarily in the Hwange National Park in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe.The lion was a major attraction at the park and was being studied and tracked by the University of Oxford as part of a larger study.
The lions in the park, including Cecil, have been studied by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford as part of a scientific project that has run since 1999, One of the researchers on the project suggested that Cecil had become so popular because he was accustomed to people, allowing vehicles sometimes as close as 10 metres (33 ft), making it easy for tourists and researchers to photograph and observe him.
The country's The Chronicle newspaper wrote: "It is not an overstatement that almost 99.99 percent of Zimbabweans didn’t know about this animal until Monday.
Now we have just learnt, thanks to the British media, that we had Africa’s most famous lion all along, an icon!
The killing resulted in international media attention and caused outrage among animal conservationists and criticism by politicians and celebrities, as well as a strong negative response against Palmer. Cecil retreated to another part of the park where he eventually established his own pride which had as many as 22 members.
During 2013, Cecil was forced out from the area by two young male lions into the eastern border of the park.
Palmer had already returned to the United States, where he issued a statement that he had "relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt" and "deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion". In response, by the premise that profits from trophy hunts help animal conservation efforts, Pohamba Shifeta, the Namibian environment and tourism minister, said, "This will be the end of conservation in Namibia." Global media and social media reaction has resulted in close to 1.2 million people signing online petition "Justice for Cecil", which asks Zimbabwe's government to stop issuing hunting permits for endangered animals.
The killing of Cecil sparked a discussion among conservation organisations about the ethics and business of big-game hunting and a proposal for bills banning imports of lion trophies to the U. Safari Club International responded by suspending both Palmer's and Bronkhorst's memberships, stating that "those who intentionally take wildlife illegally should be prosecuted and punished to the maximum extent allowed by law." Late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel helped raise US0,000 in donations in less than 24 hours to Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, which had been "responsible for tracking Cecil's activity and location".
Cecil was wounded with an arrow by Walter Palmer, an American recreational big-game hunter, was then tracked, and on 1 July 2015, reportedly killed with a rifle approximately 40 hours later.
Palmer himself claims that Cecil was killed with a bow and arrow in much less than 40 hours after the lion was first wounded. Fish and Wildlife Service added two subspecies of lion, in India and western and central Africa, to the endangered species list, which includes the species of Cecil, making it more difficult for US citizens to kill these lions.