Cape Town – The other half of one of Africa’s most special friendships has died. Jericho the lion, documented as one of the best friends of Cecil the Lion has died of natural causes.

Rumours were swirling on social media that he had been killed in a hunt just like Cecil, however this is not the case. The lion was apparently sick for a few weeks and Lions of Hwange is said to be waiting on an autopsy to establish cause.

Some of the reactions included, “He was a majestic old lion that lived and died in the wild – just as it should be,” – Friends of Hwange.

“Cecil was around 13 when he died. Looks like Jericho was at least that age. Bb the way, Cecil and Jericho weren’t actually blood brothers, just partners in a lion coalition. Jericho has been protecting (in a passive way, according to top conservationist Brent Stapelkamp in his FB post) Cecil’s cubs.

Many felt it was fitting how that Jericho had died of natural causes, saying this is how wild lions should live.

The hunt of Cecil, one of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion’s, has been instrumental in catapulting the issued of lion hunting onto the world stage – including canned lion hunting and the perceived disregard for the legalities around hunting permits in order to protect the species.

The most recent win for the species has been the US Fish and Wildlife Services effectively ruling that captive-bred lions serve no conservation purpose, banning any imports of captive bred lion trophy heads, skins, claws, teeth, and other lion parts from those kills.

Hand-reared lions cannot be released into the wild, according to wildlife experts and they also often suffer in captivity, with many hunters saying canned hunting violates the principle of “fair chase,” in which every animal has a reasonable chance to get away.  “This is huge,” says Ian Michler, investigative conservationist and the narrator of Blood Lions, a documentary released last year that exposed the canned lion industry.

While lions failed to be uplisted to CITES II at the recent CoP17 convention held in Johannesburg at the beginning of October.

A “zero annual export quota for bones, bone pieces, products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth removed from the wild and traded for commercial purposes” was set in the proposal said to be a compromised deal in an “attempt to appease the fierce opposition from lion bone and body part traders and the hunting for entertainment enthusiasts”.

Is this the end for Cecil’s pride?

Very unlikely. It’s true that when an “outside” male takes over a pride he will often kill cubs – and Cecil had around seven of them. But they’re older now and sources in Hwange say most of them are girls (so they may be seen by new males in a very different light).