Suspected poacher killed and eaten by lions in South Africa

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A lion yawns at a nature reserve on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian/File Photo

A suspected poacher was mauled to death and eaten by a pride of lions in South Africa, according to police who noted that little was left of the victim’s body.

The remains of the male victim were found over the weekend at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve, a private game reserve near Kruger National Park in the northern province of Limpopo.

“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions,” said Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe. “They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.”

A loaded hunting rifle, which was found near the remains of the man, is the main reason authorities think that he was poaching in the area when he was attacked by the lions.

Police have opened an investigation, to obtain information that could establish the victim’s identity. Much of the victim’s body has been eaten by the animals, making it difficult to identify.

“The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is amongst the remains that were found at the scene,” said Ngoepe.

The province of Limpopo has seen a rising number of instances of lion poaching in recent years. In 2017, three male lions were found poisoned in the same province with their paws and heads cut off. Lion body parts are sometimes used in traditional medicine in Africa.

“The body parts taken are typically teeth and claws. At the moment, it isn’t a huge epidemic,” said Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, who studies market influences on poaching at the University of Oxford.

The region has previously seen a higher number of rhinoceros poaching. Rhinoceros horns are a lot more expensive and have higher demand. In parts of Asia, the horn is used as a form of alternative medicine.