A poacher was allegedly killed after being trampled by an elephant and his remains later eaten by a pride of lions before being recovered by park rangers in Kruger National Park in South Africa on April 4.
According to a press release from South African National Parks, members of the poachers group called the family of the deceased and notified them that their relative had been killed by an elephant on April 2 while they were in Kruger Park to poach rhinoceros.
The family then called Skukuza Regional Ranger Don English, who assured the family he would do everything possible to bring them closure and recover the man’s remains. English arranged a search party, composed of rangers on foot, accompanied by members of the KNP Airwing.
KNP Airwing flew over the described area, but due to nightfall could not locate the remains.
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) March 23, 2015
The team resumed the search on the morning of April 4, after being provided with further information from the deceased’s alleged accomplices, who had been arrested during the previous evening by police.
“Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants,” said the Kruger National Park press release.
Further investigations into the incident are being conducted by Skukuza police.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) tweeted that, “A human skull found in the Kruger National Park (KNP) is believed to be that of a man reportedly killed by an elephant while poaching with his accomplices on 01/04; duo arrested, rifles & ammo seized.”
#sapsMP Komatipoort: A human skull found in the Kruger National Park (KNP) is believed to be that of a man reportedly killed by an elephant while poaching with his accomplices on 01/04; duo arrested, rifles & ammo seized. MEhttps://t.co/XXsXpJqTjA pic.twitter.com/4Oye38Eddh
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) April 6, 2019
According to a press release on April 6 from the South African Police Service (SAPS), the poachers set out into Kruger National Park on April 1 and claimed to have carried the dead man’s body out to the road, so that he would be found by those passing by in the morning. They then fled the park and were arrested after a joint intelligence operation by police.
The human skull and pieces of clothing were found during the search operation by police and rangers.
In total, three men aged between 26 and 35 were arrested and two .375 hunting rifles and ammunition were seized.
3 Shishangeni males and 2 female lions on the move north direction
S25, 3km W of H4-2
Near Crocodile Bridge
Tinged by Jean Discover Kruger Safaris pic.twitter.com/dHzbnv98r1
— Kruger Sightings (@LatestKruger) April 6, 2019
The suspects appeared in court on April 5 and faced charges of conspiracy to poach, trespassing, and possession of firearms and ammunition without a license.
They are due back in court on April 12, pending a formal bail application.
Glenn Phillips, managing executive of Kruger National Park, commended those who participated in the search party and helped the family find closure, offering condolences to the relatives of the deceased.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” said Phillips in the press release. “It is very sad to see the daughters of the diseased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.”
— Kruger National Park (@SANParksKNP) March 28, 2019