Cecil in Hwange National Park
Cecil in Hwange National Park

Credit: Dr Andrew Loveridge

World Lion Day

Donations to Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) continue to grow, following the death of Cecil, a lion tracked by WildCRU’s Hwange-based lion programme. Meanwhile, celebrities are also supporting the programme, as World Lion Day (10 August) is marked around the globe.

Thousands of people have responded to the death of Cecil by pledging money to support WildCRU's conservation research work. In the UK, fundraising website Everyday Hero has now raised more than £200,000 for the unit.

Meanwhile, celebrities have found their own ways to support WildCRU’s work.

Model Cara Delevingne auctioned her watch, which features an engraving of a lion. The eBay auction of the watch, a prototype for a Tag Heuer signature timepiece that is not yet available, raised £9,300. 

Animator Aaron Blaise, one of the team who produced Disney blockbuster The Lion King, has also created an image of Cecil.

Aaron Blaise is selling prints of the image and donating the profits to WildCRU.  You can see the final image at: http://creatureartteacher.com/product-category/conservation-store/

WildCRU director David Macdonald said: ‘In the global whirlwind following the illegal killing of Cecil, this wondrous image reminds us of the tranquillity of nature and inspires us in grappling with the huge challenges of conserving lions and other big carnivores.

‘My friend and colleague, Dr Andrew Loveridge, and I have worked together for almost 20 years on Hwange’s lions, alongside the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, dedicated to the well-being of the lions and indeed the often impoverished communities that live alongside them. We believe that the legacy of Cecil transcends the death of one lion and can be a turning point in conserving not only lions, but wildlife globally.

‘Together with our partners Panthera, and the worldwide community of those who have shown, through Cecil, how deeply they value nature, we are dedicated to researching the evidence that underpins conservation:  Aaron’s depiction of celestial Cecil is a vivid emblem of why humanity, worldwide, must rise to the challenge of learning to live alongside nature – the challenges are immense, but we cannot afford to fail.’