Several animal poachers became the prey themselves after being mauled to death by lions as they allegedly trespassed in South Africa’s Sibuya Game Reserve, the reserve owner Nick Fox said in a statement on the reserve’s Facebook page.
In the statement, Fox said:
‘’Sometime during the night of Sunday 1st and early hours of Monday 2nd July, 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.
‘’One of our anti-poaching dogs alerted her handler at about 4.30 am Monday morning that something was amiss. At the same time the handler heard a loud commotion coming from the lions so he suspected that this was what had alerted her and was not concerned. It is not unusual to hear them at night. However, it now appears likely that the dog had been alerted by something else out of the ordinary coming from the lions.
‘’At about 4.30 pm on Tuesday 3rd July one of our field guides on game drive alerted the Anti-Poaching Unit that there appeared to be human remains as well as other items in the immediate vicinity of the lions. I was immediately called to the scene where along with the APU we found the high powered rifle, gloves, wire cutters and the remains of a back pack with food, water and other supplies. We immediately alerted the Indalo (Association of Eastern Cape Game Reserves) Anti-Poaching Cluster and the Police.
‘’Clearly, the poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all had been killed.
As it was already dark it was not possible to investigate the area until first light at which time we arranged for our vet to dart the entire pride of lions so that Police forensic teams assisted by our Anti-poaching unit could comb the immediate area for clues. At this stage it is not clear exactly how many poachers were killed but the Police forensic team continue to investigate’’
The Eastern Cape reserve is a camping and safari site for tourists.
Authorities are now investigating the incident, which is believed to have involved two or three alleged poachers who walked into a group of six lions, Fox said.
Rhinoceros poaching is up by more than 8,000 percent across South Africa since 2007, a 2017 ABC News report found. Poachers can sell the horns for as much as $300,000 each on the illegal wildlife markets in Asia, where people believe they have medicinal value.