Lions eat poachers in African game reserve

Lions kill suspected rhino poachers who sneaked onto South African reserve

A group of rhino poachers has been eaten by lions on a South African game reserve.

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.

Three white rhinos were killed by poachers at Sibuya in June 2016, and three rhinos were killed in May at the nearby Port Alfred Nature Reserves.

"We thought they must have been rhino poachers but the axe confirmed it", Mr Fox said. Reserve staff did however find high-powered rifles with silencers, wire cutters and an axe.

"The anti-poaching unit never suspected anything wrong because it was the lions making noise and not the rhinos", Fox said.

A head and a number of bloodied body parts and limbs were found near the scene after at least three illegal hunters were devoured by the predators.

Police declined to speculate if those killed were in fact poachers, but the recovered weapons were sent for testing to establish if they had been used in any other known poaching crimes, according to the Herald Live.

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Poachers "strayed into a pride of lions - it's a big pride so they didn't have too much time", Nick Fox told AFP. He added that "they were clearly intent on killing rhinos and cutting off their horns".

More than 1,000 rhinos were killed illegally in South Africa previous year, a shocking rise since 2007, when only 13 were killed.

Rangers discovered the remains of at least two poachers, who were believed to have snuck on to the protected area, in a lion enclosure on the Sibuya reserve.

Investigators were unable to examine the scene for evidence Tuesday night and were forced to wait for daylight.

"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", she said.

And in perhaps the most heartbreaking act of conservation, park rangers in some parts of Africa are preemptively removing rhinos' horns so that poachers won't be tempted to kill the animals for them.

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