Lions maul alleged rhino poachers to death

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"They strayed into a pride of lions - it's a big pride so they didn't have too much time", Mr Fox told AFP news agency.

In February a poacher was killed by lions in the Umbabat Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park, and his family were forced to identify him using all that was left - his head.

The incident happened at the Sibuya Game Reserve sometime between the evening of July 1 and the morning of July 2.

More than 7,000 have been killed in South Africa in the past decade.

"At about 4.30pm on Tuesday, 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", he said.

The night guard heard a noise from the fenced area with six lions, but did not respond to this, since lions are often noisy night in the cage.

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When he arrive on the scene, Fox said they discovered the high-powered rifle, gloves, wire cutters and the remains of a back pack that had contained with food and water.

And in perhaps the most heartbreaking act of conservation, park rangers in some parts of Africa are preemptively removing rhinos' horns so that poachers won't be tempted to kill the animals for them.

He says the reserve's wildlife veterinarian darted the lions so that police forensic investigators could search for evidence.

"At Sibuya Game Reserve, we only view game from specialised game-viewing vehicles and not on foot due to the extremely dense bush and this forest on the reserve", Fox said. Reserve staff immediately called the Association of Eastern Cape Game Reserves Anti-Poaching Cluster and the police.

Although we will continue to be extremely vigilant we remain positive that this incident will not necessitate any changes to the status quo of our lions.

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.

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