Interview with lion researcher Brent Stapelkamp
The hunting of Cecil the lion on the eastern border of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe has triggered hysteria from the public, and it’s been difficult to sift fact from fiction.
While I was recently in the 14 650 square kilometre park, I interviewed lion researcher Brent Stapelkamp, who has worked for nine years on the Hwange Lion Research Project, which was started in 1996 by Dr. Andy Loveridge as part of an Oxford University study on the dynamics of hunting on lion populations. (Click here to download the research paper).
Brent lives on the border of Hwange, and is responsible for collaring, tracking and studying the lions that live in the east and south of Hwange, part of which formed Cecil’s territory.
Cecil was collared in 2008 with a GPS satellite collar, and at the time of his death, he was one of 30 collared lions in Hwange. The data of his movements was uploaded every two hours to a database. Together with hundreds of hours of direct observation of Cecil, the data gave Brent a better understanding of Cecil’s movements and behaviour than anyone else.
According to Brent’s data and information, Cecil was initially shot and wounded with a bow arrow at about 10pm on 1st July 2015, on a private farm in the Gwaai Intensive Conservation Area, about a kilometre east of the national park’s unfenced boundary. An elephant carcass was the bait. From subsequent data on Cecil’s collar, the research team could tell that Cecil had been killed by a second shot, about 11 hours after the initial arrow was shot into him. He died around 9am on 2nd July.