LIMA, Peru — After the shocking death of Cecil the lion this summer, here’s a rare piece of good news for Africa’s biggest cat. A total of 33 lions rescued from miserable lives in circuses in South America are heading home next month, back to Africa, in what’s being billed as the largest ever airlift of its kind. Many of the felines spent years in Peru and Colombia being mistreated, underfed and forced to perform tricks for the public.
JOHANNESBURG >> When Cecil the lion’s carcass was finally found after he was lured out of a Zimbabwe wildlife reserve to be killed by an American hunter, it was a headless, skinless skeleton the vultures had been picking at for about a week. Conservationists decided the most natural thing was to leave the bones where they were for hyenas to finish off, said Brent Stapelkamp, a lion researcher and part of a team that had tracked and studied Cecil for nine years. Stapelkamp darted Cecil and put his last GPS collar on in October. He was probably the last person to get up close before Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer used a bow and a gun to kill the now-famous lion with the bushy black mane