I was not going to post today, since I would like to slow down the rate at which I publish new material (most of my posts are fairly labor intensive). But when I read this story I knew I had to share it.
I am sure you are all aware of the horrible way in which Cecil the lion was killed. If not, then this article from CNN will help you catch up.
One of the reasons it is hard to hunt big cats sustainably is because they engage in infanticide. Males of many felids will kill cubs that are not theirs in order to mate with their mother. In this way they ensure that their genes are passed on, and not their rivals’. When dominant cats are killed other males often move in to their territory and kill their offspring.
It was feared that Cecil’s murder would be a death sentence for his cubs, because lions engage in infanticide. But lions are unique in the cat world: they are highly social. Female lions form prides, and males often form coalitions. This allows them to work together to defend territories and cubs from opposing males.
Based on this article by David Millward, it seems Cecil and his brother Jericho were coalition partners. This is because Jericho is defending Cecil’s cubs from other males. With Jericho’s help, these young lions may be able to avoid an untimely death.
This story demonstrates one of the reasons lions are so extraordinary. It is good to know that despite Cecil’s abhorrent and brutal death, there is still hope for his cubs.