It was the shot heard around the world. An American trophy hunter shot and severely injured Cecil with an arrow after he was lured outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe with elephant carcass bait. About 10 hours later, the hunting party tracked him down. A second arrow ended Cecil’s life. The African lion’s death was met with sweeping global outrage over his horrific killing—and trophy hunting more broadly.

Seven years later, the male lions currently living in and around Hwange National Park may be trophy hunters’ next targets. Today, Cecil’s 25-member pride is led by brothers Humba and Netsai and consists of Cecil’s mates, daughters and grandcubs. If trophy hunters target Humba and Netsai, the remaining pride members will be left vulnerable. But it’s not just Cecil’s pride threatened by the cascading damages of trophy hunting: Only around 20,000 mature lions are left in the wild. Although multiple countries have since banned the import of lion trophies, the United States—the No. 1 importer of hunting trophies in the world—isn’t one of them, leaving the remaining members of Cecil’s pride vulnerable to American trophy hunters.

Cecil’s legacy lives on not just in his offspring, but in the fight to protect other lions from the crosshairs of trophy hunters. Cecil is remembered for the heartbreaking events surrounding his death, but he also lived a vibrant life: He created an unusual alliance with another male lion, led a pride and became a favorite among the many tourists and locals who had the opportunity to watch him in the wild. Now, Humba and Netsai inspire a similar joy among visitors to the national park. With your help, their story can end differently from Cecil’s.

The death of one lion frequently results in the death of several others through starvation, infanticide or conflict with other lions or people.

Dr. Andrew Loveridge, Oxford University

icon of lions 2013

Cecil creates a coalition with another male lion, Jericho, to establish two prides in the eastern part of Hwange National Park. Researchers are surprised to see this alliance; Cecil and Jericho had previously fought each other.

icon of a bow July 2015

Cecil is lured out of the safety of Hwange National Park with elephant carcass bait and shot with an arrow by an American trophy hunter. When he is tracked down around 10 hours later, he is slowly dying. He is then killed.

Xanda the lion stands in a field of tall grass
Xanda
Fish Eagle Safaris USA

icon of a plane 2015–2016

France bans the import of African lion trophies.

The Netherlands bans the import of trophies of over 200 species, including lions, elephants and polar bears.

More than 42 airlines restrict some or all wildlife trophies on their flights.

African lions are listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act, prohibiting the import of lion trophies, but a loophole allows imports when it would “enhance the survival of the species.”

icon of a hunter 2017

Cecil’s son Xanda is killed by a trophy hunter almost exactly two years after his father died.

The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Humane Society Legislative Fund send a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sharing research that shows trophy hunting of lions in Zimbabwe is poorly managed and lion hunting quotas are not science-based.

Humba and Netsai cuddle playfully in the tall grass
Humba and Netsai
Dex Kotze

blue icon of scales of justice 2018–2021

Brothers Humba and Netsai take over Cecil’s home range in Hwange National Park. Sisi, one of Cecil’s daughters, joins them. Cecil’s pride, now led by Humba and Netsai, consists of 25 lions, including Cecil’s mates, offspring and grandcubs.

Colombian courts rule trophy hunting is unconstitutional, effective in 2020. In 2021, Colombia passes a law banning trophy imports, including lion trophies.

icon of a lion 2021

In September, the HSUS, HSI and HSLF write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service again, stating that the agency is not fulfilling its mandate under the Endangered Species Act by allowing imports of African lion trophies from Zimbabwe and is using faulty information to justify issuing permits.

In December, the United Kingdom announces plans to ban trophy imports of over 7,000 species, including lions, elephants and giraffes.


Urge the USFWS to Stop the Import of Lion Trophies

Want more stories like this?

This article was written and produced by the team behind All Animals, our award-winning magazine. Each issue is packed with inspiring stories about how we are changing the world for animals together.

Learn MoreSubscribe
Cover of All Animals Magazine with a photo of a female lion and her cub.