London: A rival big cat has reportedly killed one of the eight cubs of Cecil, the much-loved Zimbabwean lion who was killed last month by an American dentist.
The rival lion took advantage of the unprotected pride to try and mate with the cub's mother and killed one of his competitor's offspring at the Hwange National Park. Locals fear that the remaining cubs may have just a few days left to live, the Daily Mail reported.
"The natural law in the lion society is that when a male dies and his weakened coalition is usurped, the new incoming male kills his predecessor's cubs," Oxford's research project leader David Macdonald was quoted as saying.
The next lion in the hierarchy kills his predecessor's cubs so that he can father his own offspring with the females in the pride.
Earlier this week, Macdonald had warned that Cecil's death could lead to a "cascade of other deaths".
Hopes were raised when it appeared that the new pride leader -- Cecil's brother Jericho -- had stepped in to safeguard the young. However, later it was confirmed that Jericho abandoned the cubs.
Last month, American dentist Walter Palmer killed the much-loved lion Cecil sparking outrage around the world.
Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri sought extradition of the dentist from the US.
The lion was recognisable because of his large size and distinctive black mane and seemingly enjoyed human company. He was being studied and tracked by Oxford University as part of a larger study.