The rangers at the Kruger National Park found only a human skull and a pair of pants, that were remaining from the poacher's body.
In a shocking incident, a man suspected of being a rhino poacher was killed by an elephant. And what's even more shocking was that his remains were later devoured by a pride of lions. The incident, that took place last week, was confirmed by the officials of the Kruger National Park in South Africa, reports The Guardian.
The rangers at the national park found only a human skull and a pair of pants, that were remaining from the poacher's body. The police had earlier received information that a group of men was hunting in the park on April 1, “when suddenly an elephant attacked and killed one of them”, according to Police Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
This was also confirmed by the man’s accomplices who had earlier told his relatives that they went to the park to poach rhinos. “His accomplices claimed to have carried his body to the road so that passersby could find it in the morning. They then vanished from the park,” Leonard was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Following the incident, the group of people had fled the spot and later informed a relative of the man who was killed. The relatives later informed the local police and had launched a manhunt to search for the man. However, the park rangers couldn't find the man, either on foot and by air, due to failing light.
The authorities returned on April 4 and found the man’s remains in the Crocodile Bridge section of the park.
“Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants,” Isaac Phaahla, the general manager of communications for the Kruger national park, told the English daily.
The three accomplices, aged between 26 and 35, were held by the police in the KaMhlushwa and Komatipoort precincts. They have been charged with possession of firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach as well as trespassing. They appeared in court on April 5, which was followed by an ongoing investigation to ascertain the cause of the man’s death.
A judge has remanded them to custody and they will be back in court this week, pending a formal bail application.
The park's owner also confirmed the incident. He said: "We found enough body parts which suggest to us the lions ate at least three of them but it is thick bush out there and there could be more bodies out there. They came heavily armed with enough food to last days so we suspect they were after all our rhinos but the lions are our watchers and guardians and they became the meal."
“Entering Kruger national park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that. It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains,” the managing executive of Kruger national park said.
According to CNN, the African rhino is poached by hunters for its horn for the belief that those who practice Eastern medicine claim the horn acts like an aphrodisiac. This could even make more valuable than cocaine in several parts of the world.
80 percent of rhinos are found in South Africa, and that is one of the primary reason why the place is often targetted by poachers. Between the years 2013 and 2017, over 1,000 rhinos were killed by poachers each year in South Africa. With stricter laws, the numbers witnessed a drop to 769 in 2018, even as poachers continue to target the animal for its horn, according to Save the Rhino.
Kruger national park is home to most of the world's rhinos on the planet. The South African national park has been at a constant threat of poachers. According to Guardian, more than 70% of all rhinos that were poached in South Africa took place in the park in 2015.