Last ever pictures of Cecil the lion show majestic beast just months before his tragic death

These may be some of the last ever images taken of Cecil the lion, whose death earlier this month caused uproar after he was shot down by US dentist Walter Palmer.

Cecil the king

Possibly last ever picture of Cecil the king

A series of snaps show the majestic Cecil relaxing with the pride and playing with his family up until as late as May 2015.

On patrol

On patrol

Photographer Brent Stapelkamp, 37, from Zimbabwe, had been tracking Cecil’s progress for a number of years in his role as a lion researcher at the Hwange National Park.

Cecil and Jericho (top)

Cecil and Jericho (top)

Brent last saw Cecil in May 2015, as he captured an incredible shot of the regal lion staring poignantly into the distance.

Cecil and Jericho approaching the boundary

Cecil and Jericho approaching the boundary

He said: “Cecil was a very important lion to me because he represented the Hwange lion population.

These images were captured May 2015

These images were captured May 2015

“He was something of a flagship cat and was very much a public figure and a symbol for Hwange and Zimbabwe.

Jericho Lives! This is the first picture of Jericho the lion, Cecils second in command and proof that he is alive.

Jericho Lives! This is the first picture of Jericho the lion, Cecils second in command and proof that he is alive.

“We are saddened by this story but believe that his death will bring vital attention to the plight of lions.”