Poachers Eaten By Lions After Breaking Into Game Reserve To Slaughter Rhinos

July 6, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Story

(photo: @r3dmax)

A pride of hungry lions in a South African reserve just saved the day, at least for a herd of rhinos. The poachers, who had illegally entered that reserve with a gun and axe to kill those rhinos, were not so lucky.

The big cats mauled and killed at least two — possibly three — poachers, leaving behind just their bloodied and partly-eaten body parts, according to news reports.

Nick Fox, owner of the Sibuya Game Reserve said in a statement from the park:

“Sometime during the night of Sunday 1st and early hours of Monday 2nd July 2018, a group of at least three poachers entered Sibuya Game Reserve.

They were armed with, amongst other things, a high powered rifle with a silencer, an axe, wire cutters and had food supplies for a number of days – all the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns.”

“They were obviously poachers. The axe that was found on the scene is what is used to by these poachers to hack off the horn after they kill the animal,” Fox said.

The horns are prized for their medicinal value and used in traditional Chinese medicines, though there is no science to back up their touted “cure-all” powers. In addition, the horns are now seen as a status symbol, according to Save the Rhino, a U.K.-based conservation charity. And South Africa is home to the most rhinos in the world — both the critically endangered black rhino and the near threatened white rhino — making them a target for poachers, who are often armed with guns and other equipment. Some will even tranquilize a rhino before sawing off its horn, “leaving the rhino to wake up and bleed to death very painfully and slowly,” according to Save the Rhino. In 2017, poachers killed 1,028 rhinos in South Africa, compared with 13 in 2007.

The first sign that something was happening was round 4.30 am on Monday morning, when one of the reserve’s anti-poaching dogs alerted her handler that something was wrong. The handler heard some commotion, but since lions are generally active in the early hours anyway, they continued on their rounds.

A day later, one of the reserve’s field guides made the grim discovery.

Among the other things, they found a high-powered rifle with a silencer, “which is a surefire sign of rhino poachers,” Fox said. “The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone. There is so little left that they don’t know exactly how many people were killed, we suspect three because we found three sets of shoes and three sets of gloves.”

Because the park is so well known and is home to such a prominent group of animals, Sibuya has suffered from numerous break-ins by poachers recently. In June 2016 two white rhinos were killed and a third died later from injuries sustained in the poaching incident. This year already, nine rhinos have been shot with high-calibre hunting rifles by poachers on Eastern Cape reserves. And just last week, beautiful Bella, a rhino at the Kragga Kamma Game Park, was brutally shot. Even though she had been dehorned for her protection, the poachers scraped out what was left.

As Newsweek writes, Fox admits that the incident was sad. But he also noted that it “should send a message” to other poachers who risk their lives to hunt game in his reserve.