A University of Oxford researcher in Zimbabwe says that Cecil the lion's brother, Jericho, "seems to be alive and well" despite reports that he was killed Saturday afternoon in Hwange National Park.
Satellite data from a tracking collar on Jericho showed that he had moved nine meters (29.5 feet) between about 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday night, said Brent Stapelkamp, a field researcher with Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU).
"That is normal if he is resting or near a kill," he said. Attention on the park is heightened following the death of Cecil, a popular, black-maned tourist attraction who was lured away and killed illegally by an American dentist and trophy hunter.
Johnny Rodrigues, a park official and head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told CNN of Jericho's alleged death in an illegal hunt. The group's Facebook page said he had been shot and killed at 4 p.m. "We are absolutely heart broken," the message said.
But Stapelkamp said Jericho traveled 179 meters (587 feet) between about 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.: "That looks good to me."
Stapelkamp said he planned to visually confirm Jericho's well-being Sunday morning.
Cecil and Jericho shared two prides of six lionesses and an estimated 24 young cubs. Cecil's death sparked an outcry over trophy hunting and more than $450,000 in donations to WildCRU, the group that has been tracking lions at Hwange in order to protect them.
Stapelkamp knew Cecil perhaps better than anyone else, studying the lion since 2008. Cecil and his pride had been part of an ongoing research project with Oxford since 1999. He took what's known as the last photo of Cecil about a month before the lion's death (see top of this story).
Cecil was at least the 23rd lion that WildCRU scientists have been tracking in Zimbabwe, only to see its life cut short by illegal hunting.
—Additional reporting by Jason Bittel and Brian Clark Howard