Lions in a nature reserve in South Africa killed and ate three poachers after they broke in for hunting purposes.
The group of poachers had entered the Sibuya Game Nature Reserve located near Kenton-on-Sea to hunt a herd of rhinos, but were attacked by a pride of lions. As reported by Dailymail, the motives of those killed were made clear when the reserve’s staff found wire cutters, hunting rifles with silencers, and an axe, presumably to sever ivory horns. Food was also found, suggesting that the group has intended to stay inside for several says in the search of rhinos. A vet then tranquilized the lions for the police to be able to enter the area safely. Search recovered body parts along with 3 pairs of shoes.
Police spokesperson, Captain Mali Govender, confirmed this, saying they did find remains but do not yet know of the identities. “We do not know identities but firearms have been taken by the police and will be sent to the ballistics laboratory to see if they have been used in poaching before,” she said.
Nick Fox, Sibuya Game Reserve’s owner, further confirmed the findings. He said, “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. They were clearly intent on killing rhinos and cutting off their horns.”
Nick, 60, added that the number of those killed could be more than three. Since the group was not seen entering, there is no certain way of confirming how many there were, and whether anyone escaped. He stated, “We found enough body parts and three pairs of empty shoes which suggest to us that the lions ate at least three of them but it is thick bush and there could be more.”
Captain Mali Govender further confirmed this, saying detectives on the scene are trying to determine how many were killed.
The Sibuya Game Reserve spans a massive 30 square miles and houses rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes. This is not the first time the wildlife at the reserve has been threatened by poaching; three rhinos were killed in 2016 when hunters shot them and cut off their horns.
He also said that the hunters perhaps did not know there were lions in the area, or they might have been oblivious to the fact that the lions are the ‘watchers and guardians’. “But the lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal,” he said.
While the staff at the nature reserve feels sorry for those who lost their lives, they believe this sends out an important message to other hunters and poachers, that may not always ‘win’. Nick said, “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.”