A suspected poacher was eaten by lions in Kruger National Park in the South African province of Limpopo. Moatshe Ngoepe, a South African police spokesperson told AFP that the pride of lions “ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.” A loaded rifle was found nearby.
“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions,” Ngoepe told AFP. He continued, “The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is amongst the remains that were found at the scene.”
Authorities initially believed that the remains belonged to a local farmer. His tractor had broken down and police thought he may have been attacked after. The farmer was later found to be alive. While his tractor did suffer a breakdown near the park, he was able to walk back to his home unharmed.
The man who was eaten by lions has not been ultimately determined to have been a poacher, however, authorities reported that he was allegedly intruding on the reserve. It is also not entirely clear if the man was there to poach lions or if he was hunting other animals.
Lion poaching has increased in the Limpopo province over the last few years. Last year, two male lions were killed in their enclosure. Their heads, tails, paws, and skins were all taken. Lion parts are mainly sold to be used in traditional medicine. They are particularly popular in South East Asia.
The Limpopo province also happens to be a hot spot for rhino poachers. South Africa recently overturned a ban on selling rhino horns within the country, however, the international sale of rhino horns remains illegal.
Lion populations in Africa are on the decline. The African Wildlife Foundation reported that the number of lions has decreased by roughly 43% within the last 21 years. Regarding the case of the dead poacher, British wildlife photographer Charlie Lynham, who regularly photographs lions in the area, told the Daily Mail this could be a case of “poetic justice.”
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