Rhino Poachers Eaten By Lions

July 7, 2018 at 12:37 am

A pride of lions devoured three rhino poachers just after they broke into a wildlife reserve in South Africa

Sibuya Reserve Park

There are only 29,000 rhinos left on Earth, down from several hundred thousand 150 years ago. With over 1000 of them poached for their horns each year, that number is shrinking fast.

Lions at one of the most popular wild game reserves in South Africa, Sibuya, just helped slow the rate of rhino carnage by eating three poachers shortly after they broke in.

Sibuya Reserve Park

At 4:30 am on July 2, an anti-poaching dog alerted her handler that something was amiss. The handler heard a commotion among the lions, which was not unusual and dismissed it.

But the afternoon of July 3, a field guide came across human remains, weapons and belongings, including a high powered rifle with a silencer, an axe, wire cutters and several days worth of food – “all the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns,” said reserve owner Nick Fox in a press release.

“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone. 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.”

After cutting through the fence, the poachers apparently unexpectedly ran into a pride of six lions in the dark and didn’t have time to fight back, Fox told AFP news agency.

South Africa is home to about 20,000 wild rhinos, more than 80 percent of the world’s population. In the last decade, more than 7,000 have been killed illegally for their horns, according to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs.

Rhino horn is worth about $9,000 per pound in Asia, as a prized ingredient in Chinese and Vietnamese traditional medicine and a status symbol.

According to South Africa’s Private Rhino Owners Association, 6,200 of the country’s rhinos are in private hands and are used commercially for photographic safaris, legal hunting, horn production, and breeding.

Although selling rhino horn is illegal, in South Africa if you have a permit, you can cut off a rhino’s horn. Every year or two South African rhino farmers tranquilize the animals, cut as much as four pounds of horn from each of them, and store the product bank vaults, hoping for a day when it’s legal to sell.

Meanwhile a booming illegal trade supplies Vietnamese and Chinese customers, who use ground rhino horn powder as a treatment for everything from cancer to snake bites to an aphrodisiac.