Trio of Poachers Falls Prey to a Pride of Lions in South Africa Game Park

July 6, 2018 Last Updated: July 7, 2018

A trio of South African poachers got a very harsh lesson on who sits atop the food chain.

Three poachers broke into a South African game preserve, apparently planning to slaughter rhinoceros in order to harvest their horns. Instead of rhinos, the poachers met a pride of lions.

One hunter’s head and various body parts were later recovered.

The three poachers broke into the Sibuya Game Reserve near Kenton-on-Sea on South Africa’s southeast coast.

A park guide spotted what looked like human remains near a group of lions on Tuesday afternoon. Because night was approaching, police and anti-poaching officers had to wait until the next day to search the thick brush.

They found a rifle with a silencer, an axe, wire cutters, three pairs of boots, and three pairs of gloves, along with various body parts.

Sibuya owner Nick Fox said it was impossible to know how many poachers actually might have been eaten.

While no one cannot be sure what the unauthorized party of hunters might have been doing, “We’re almost 100% sure this is connected to rhino poaching,” Fox told Fox News.

Rhinos are endangered. They are heavily poached because their horns are believed to have powerful medicinal applications. They do not—rhino horns are similar to horse hooves—but folk beliefs attribute amazing powers to the ground horns.

Three people were arrested in Kimberley, South Africa, on July 4, with about $92,000 worth of rhino horn, according to the South African Police Service.

Three rhinos were killed in nearby Port Alfred in May 2018, raising the total of illegal rhino killings in the province to nine for the year.

In 2016, poachers hacked off the horns and killed three rhinos at the Sibuya Game Reserve.

Reserve owner Nick Fox believes the poachers planned to kill the entire herd.

“They came heavily armed with hunting rifles and axes which we have recovered and enough food to last them for several days so we suspect they were after all of our rhinos here,” he told the Sun.

“But the lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal.

“Whilst we are saddened at any loss of life the poachers came here to kill our animals and this sends out a very clear message to any other poachers that you will not always be the winner.”

Investigation Continues

“Investigators and specialists combed the scene and managed to retrieve remains, which were taken by the Department of Health to conduct forensic testing,” South African Police Service Captain Mali Govender said in a statement. “Investigation continues and at this stage we are unable to speculate as to how the remains ended up at the scene.”

Owner Nick Fox believes the poachers broke into the reserve on Sunday night or early Monday morning, planning to shoot rhinos and cut off their horns with the axe. An anti-poaching patrol’s watchdog signaled some disturbance around 4:30 a.m., but the patrol figured it was just lions out hunting.

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

This is not the first time lions have turned the tables on poachers.

A suspected poacher was eaten by a pride of lions in the Umbabat Game Reserve near Kruger National Park, also in South Africa, in February, reported.

“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains,” Limpopo Province police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP.

Several lions had been found poisoned the year before. Someone had sawn off their heads and paws—body parts used in traditional medicine, like rhino horn.