At least three suspected rhino poachers have been killed by a pride of lions after they broke into a game reserve in South Africa.
Rangers discovered human remains around 4:30 p.m. local time on July 3 in the immediate vicinity of the lions’ territory at the Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape, more than 24 hours after an anti-poaching dog alerted her handler that something was amiss.
The ranger however did not examine the disturbance further because it was not unusual to hear the lions at night.
In a press release, the game reserve said:
Lions Kill Suspected Poachers on Sibuya Game Reserve
Sometime during the night of Sunday 1st and early hours of Monday 2nd July a group of at least three poachers entered Sibuya Game Reserve.
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.
One of our anti-poaching dogs alerted her handler at about 4.30 am Monday morning that something was amiss. At the same time the handler heard a loud commotion coming from the lions so he suspected that this was what had alerted her and was not concerned. It is not unusual to hear them at night.
However, it now appears likely that the dog had been alerted by something else out of the ordinary coming from the lions.
At about 4.30 pm on Tuesday 3rd July 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. I was immediately called to the scene where along with the APU we found the high powered rifle, gloves, wire cutters and the remains of a back pack with food, water and other supplies. We immediately alerted the Indalo (Association of Eastern Cape Game Reserves) Anti-Poaching Cluster and the Police.
Clearly, the poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all had been killed.
As it was already dark it was not possible to investigate the area until first light at which time we arranged for our vet to dart the entire pride of lions so that Police forensic teams assisted by our Anti-poaching unit could comb the immediate area for clues. At this stage it is not clear exactly how many poachers were killed but the Police forensic team continue to investigate
Nick Fox – Reserve Owner
When members of the anti-poaching unit investigated, they recovered human remains, a high-powered rifle with a silencer, wire cutters, an axe and three pairs of shoes.
Nick Fox, the park’s owner, said the lions were shot with tranquilizer darts at first light so police forensic teams and the anti-poaching unit could comb the area for clues, and admitted it was not clear how many poachers may have been killed.
“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone,” he told Newsweek. “There is so little left that they don’t know exactly how many people were killed, we suspect three because we found three sets of shoes and three sets of gloves.”
He added: “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. But the lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal.”
Police spokeswoman Captain Mali Govender said:
“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.”
In 2016, the reserve saw three of its rhinos shot dead by poachers who broke into the reserve to cut off their horns. All books with the reserve include an option Rhino Levy where the proceeds are donated to a fund fighting poaching.
Nine rhinos have been killed by poachers in Eastern Cape province this year, according to South Africa’s Times.
The reserve is one of the most popular game serves in the Eastern Cape and is home to Africa’s big five – elephants, buffalos and leopards as well as rhinos and lions.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
July 5th, 2018