Lions on Sibuya Game Reserve Facebook page
Lions on Sibuya Game Reserve Facebook page Sibuya Game Reserve

A group of suspected rhino poachers are believed to have been eaten by a pride of lions at the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa. Rangers discovered the remains of two to three persons in a lion enclosure at the wildlife preserve earlier this week.

Reserve owner Nick Fox related the incident on their official Facebook page, saying at least three poachers entered the reserve late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning. They were armed with high-powered rifle with a silencer, axe and wire cutters among other things, and they had food supplies that would last for a number of days. These, Fox said, were “hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns.”

Anti-poaching dogs alerted their handler early Monday morning. The handler heard a loud commotion coming from the lions, and so he thought that it was nothing out of the ordinary. At 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a field guide alerted the Anti-Poaching Unit about what appeared to be human remains and other items in the immediate vicinity of the lions.

“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,” he wrote.

The reserve has arranged for police forensic teams to investigate the incident. It wasn’t clear how many poachers were killed.

Fox said the poachers had a rifle but was not able to take a shot before they were attacked by the lions. They were apparently on foot, which is dangerous when approaching lions. Staff and visitors have to be on big trucks when they go near the lions’ area.

Rhinos are at risk of being killed for their horns, which are erroneously believed to have healing properties. The horns are fixtures in traditional Chinese medicine, which states these can cure fever, rheumatism, gout and more.