Local authorities in Zimbabwe have reported that Cecil the lion, one of the most famous big cats in Africa, was killed by a Spanish tourist on July 6th.
The lion was shot and killed by the man who paid £35,000 to wildlife guides to let him hunt the animal, reports the Huffington Post.
The majestic beast, who was 13 years old and a major tourist attraction, was shot with a crossbow and rifle, before being beheaded and skinned.
His six cubs will now be killed, as a new male lion won't allow them to live.
It is believed the lion did not die immediately, and was followed for more than 40 hours before it was shot again with a rifle.
The lion was baited to tempt him out of the Hwange National Park, a technique commonly used by hunters so they can 'legally' kill protected lions.
'Tragic death of a symbol of Zimbabwe'
Johnny Rodrigues, head of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said: "Cecil's death is a tragedy. Not only because he was a symbol of Zimbabwe but because now we have to give up for dead his six cubs, as a new male won't allow them to live so as to encourage Cecil's three females to mate.
"The two people who accompanied the hunter have been arrested but we haven't yet tracked down the hunter, who is Spanish."
The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association said its members were involved and the case is being investigated.
Cecil was wearing a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University research project which has been ongoing since 1999.