Was Cecil the lion's son killed because he was head of the pride?

Xanda was tagged as part of an Oxford University monitoring project

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Cecil the lion's son was shot dead deliberately

Scientists monitoring the movements of Cecil the lion's Xanda believe big game hunters deliberately slaughtered the animal despite knowing he was head of the pride.

Xanda, six, was shot dead just outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe last week , two years after the killing of Cecil by an American dentist prompted worldwide outrage.

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Last week it was claimed that Xanda had strayed into forest outside the National Park boundaries where trophy hunting is allowed, and his death would not impact other younger lions.

But Oxford University's Wildlife Research Conservation Unit, which tagged the lion as part of a monitoring project, said suggestions that Xanda had been ousted from his pride of seven cubs were simply not true.

Credits: Bert Duplessis/www.fisheaglesafaris.com

Xanda's death will be detrimental to the population' as he leaves behind vulnerable cubs

Andrew Loveridge, leading the project, said his staff had warned the professional hunter, Richard Cooke, that shooting Xanda "would be detrimental to the population".

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Male lions routinely kill their rival's offspring when they take control of a pride of females.

Credits: Getty

His dad Cecil was killed two years earlier

"These cubs are too young to survive on their own and will certainly be vulnerable to infanticide," Mr Loveridge said in a letter.

Son of Cecil the Lion shot dead by hunters in Zimbabwe two years after dad killed by US dentist

"There is no question that Mr Cooke was fully aware that this animal was a pride male. He was a territorial male in a pride of three females with at least seven dependent cubs of between 1 and 1.5 years old."

His comments came days after he initially praised Mr Cooke as an ethical hunter and "one of the good guys" when details of Xanda's death emerged last week.

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