Philanthropists match donations to Cecil researchers

American philanthropist Thomas Kaplan with the Duke of Cambridge, after he donated to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford Credit: PA

US philanthropists Dr Tom Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan have pledged to match new donations to Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Unit (WildCRU) who had been tracking Cecil the lion since 2008.

The couple will match new donations from today up to the value of $100,000 (£64,000).

WildCRU has been overwhelmed by the level of donations received since the death Cecil, the 13-year-old Zimbabwean lion who was killed by an American dentist in a trophy hunt.

So far some £300,000 has been raised, enough to fund research into lion conservation in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe for two years.

With this pledge, WildCRU said they hope to increase this amount to a total of £500,000.

Professor David Macdonald, Director of WildCRU, said he and his colleague Andy Loveridge were "overwhelmed and inspired".

Mr Kaplan said he was inspired to match donations after an appeal by Jimmy Kimmel who got choked up when talking about the issue on his late show.

Earlier this month, Dr Kaplan gifted a restored Spitfire to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford and sold the another one at auction donating the proceeds to several charities, most of it going to saving wild cats.

To make a donation to WildCRU, click here.