Nature has struck back in Africa, with lions on a South African game reserve killing and eating a gang of suspected rhino poachers.
Rangers in the Sibuya game reserve, near the town of Kenton-on-Sea in the country’s Eastern Cape province, made the grisly discovery last week.
Investigations are underway to determine whether the human remains are those of two, three or more people. The victims were almost certainly poachers because a high-powered rifle fitted with a silencer was found at the scene, alongside wire cutters and a long-handled axe.
Axes and saws are commonly used to hack off the slain rhino’s horn, which is viewed by some people in Asia as an aphrodisiac, even though it isn’t.
In a statement on Sibuya reserve’s Facebook page, owner Nick Fox said the suspected poachers entered the reserve late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning and blundered into a large, hungry pride of lions.
Nature took its course. “One of our guys found what he thought was a soccer ball,” Fox told a news outlet. “It turned out to be a skull.”
In a comment to AFP news agency, Fox added: “We’re not sure how many [poachers] there were – there’s not much left of them.”
Fox said several lions needed to be tranquilized before the remains could be recovered and police had now mounted extra patrols in case any of the poachers had escaped the fate of their accomplices and were still at large. Fox said no harm would come to the lions over what they had done.
Although rhino horn is made of the same substance as claws or human fingernails and is ineffectual as a medicine, it is used in various traditional remedies popular in Asia. Poachers are thought to have killed about 7000 rhinos over the past decade in South Africa alone, mainly for that reason.
Big game is a mainstay of African tourism and poaching directly threatens it.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.