Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Lions maul suspected rhinoceros poachers on South African game reserve, owner says

Lions maul suspected rhinoceros poachers on South African game reserve, owner says

At least two suspected rhino poachers were mauled and eaten by a pride of lions after somehow wandering onto an African game reserve, officials said Thursday.

Sibuya Game Reserve owner Nick Fox said in a statement that anti-poaching dogs alerted reserve staff that "something was amiss" in the early morning hours of July 2.

It's possible that more than three poachers were killed, he added. It was getting too dark to search the area, so police came back the next day with the reserve's anti-poaching unit and other specialists.

Poachers were believed to have accessed the reserve Sunday night or early Monday morning.

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"We're not sure how many there were", Fox continued.

Nick Fox, the owner of the reserve, said rangers also found a "high powered rifle with a silencer, an ax, wire cutters and. food supplies for a number of days", in a press release shared on Facebook. Fox said the poachers' mangled remains are suspected to have been eaten by a pride of six lions who were on the reservation to protect the endangered and highly targeted rhinos who are hunted for their horns.

Body parts of lions are also used in traditional medicine.

The facility boasts 30 square miles of wildlife and contains Africa's big five game animals: lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalos and leopards.

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Detectives combed the scene on Wednesday, and the remains have been sent for forensic testing.

Nine rhinos were killed by poachers in Eastern Cape province, where the reserve is located, this year alone.

In 2016, three rhinos were killed when poachers sneaked into the park, shooting them and cutting off their horns. "The remains were scattered over a very wide area making it hard to comb the scene and get all the evidence‚" he said.

Captain Govender said: "We do not know identities but firearms have been taken by the police and will be sent to the ballistics laboratory to see if they have been used in poaching before".

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In February a poacher was killed by lions in the Umbabat Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park, and his family were forced to identify him using all that was left - his head.

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