CNN reports that, according to a senior park official, Cecil the lion’s brother Jericho, who is also a lion, was killed on Saturday in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Others have called this account into question. [UPDATED.]

Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told CNN that Jericho was shot and killed by a hunter operating illegally.

“It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil’s brother has been killed at 4pm today,” the group wrote on Facebook.

According to the Daily Mail, Jericho had been protecting Cecil’s cubs, who biologists had feared would be killed by a rival male taking over Cecil’s pride.

Update 3:25 p.m. – At least two Zimbabwe-based conservation groups have posted to Facebook denying reports that Jericho has been killed: Friends of Hwange and Bhejane Trust. CNN’s story hasn’t been changed; nor has the ZCTF’s Facebook page.

Update 4:10 p.m. – Brent Stapelkamp, a field researcher for the Hwange Lion Research Project monitoring Jericho’s GPS tag, told Reuters that he doesn’t think the lion is dead. “He looks alive and well to me as far as I can tell,” Stapelkamp said.

Stapelkamp told The Guardian that he would look for Jericho tomorrow morning. “Certainly, I’ve been asked to go and look for him tomorrow morning so I will confirm he is alive and send pictures to the world,” he said.

The researcher also seemed to disparage the reliability of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force as a source of information. “I think this type of misinformation is characteristic of that particular source,” he said.

Update 8:00 a.m. (Sunday) – He’s fine.

Pictured: Cecil. Photo credit: AP Images. Contact the author of this post: