At least three poachers are believed to have been eaten by lions after they broke into the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa news outlets are reporting.
It’s believed that the men stumbled across a pride of six lions late on Sunday night or early Monday morning.
“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. “We’re not sure how many there were – there’s not much left of them.”
Several lions had to be tranquilized before the remains could be recovered and police have been patrolling the area in case other suspected poachers survived.
Rangers found a head, bloody limbs and three pairs of shoes recovered from the scene along with equipment commonly used by poachers to cut off rhino horns.
“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,” Fox wrote in a press release.
Many have reacted to the news of the deaths saying the poachers got a well-deserved dose of karma. Ricky Gervais tweeted about the news, writing “Rest in Pieces.”
Rest In Pieces https://t.co/0PqVt9mrBY
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 5, 2018
Other people contacted Sibuya Game Reserve concerned about the welfare of the lions involved in the attacks. Fox posted on Facebook that the lions have not exhibited any change of behavior. He wrote:
“We have received many questions relating to the future of the six lions involved in the tragic incident surrounding the killing of suspected poachers.
“The six lions involved were darted (anesthetized) from a game viewing vehicle and their reaction to the vehicle at that time was closely monitored by myself, the veterinary staff as well as our conservation staff. Their behaviour appeared no different from that exhibited towards these vehicles over the last ten years.”
“The general consensus in the game industry is that lions view a game viewing vehicle containing people as something entirely different from individuals who are walking on the ground. At Sibuya Game Reserve we only view game from specialised game viewing vehicles and not on foot due to the extremely dense bush and thick forest on the Reserve.
“Over the last few days game guides and anti-poaching staff have continued to drive game viewing vehicles in the vicinity of this pride to check for any behavioural differences and they have confirmed that to date there have been none.
“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.”
There has been a steady rise in poaching in Africa in recent years, as demand for rhino horn in parts of Asia has grown. Rhino horn is believed to have medicinal properties even though it is made from the same material as human fingernails. This year alone, nine rhinos were killed by poachers in Eastern Cape province, where the reserve is located.