Poachers who broke into the Sibuya Game Reserve on Monday appeared to be targeting a herd of rhinos when they were attacked and devoured by a pride of lions.
So far the remains of 3 hunters have been found devoured by the predators with one head being recovered along with body parts and three pairs of shoes so far.
The reserve had to tranquilize six lions so that police could go in and recover the remains of the poachers.
Reserve owner Nick Fox told Newsweek:
“We found enough body parts and three pairs of empty shoes which suggest to us that the lions ate at least three of them but it is thick bush and there could be more.
“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.
“Whilst we are saddened at any loss of life the poachers came here to kill our animals and this sends out a very clear message to any other poachers that you will not always be the winner”.
The reserve lost 3 rhinos in 2016 when poachers got into the park and shot them dead, but this time the poachers ended up being prey and dinner for lions.
The park owner says there may have been more poachers but it is difficult to tell since the area is full of very thick bush and they can't be sure that the lions didn't carry them off to feed on elsewhere.
The poachers were armed with high powered rifles equipped with silencers and an axe to cut off the horns as well as wire cutters. They also had enough food to last them for many days.
The remains were found as darkness fell on July 3rd but the reserve staff had to wait until daylight on July 4th when they couldd declare the area safe to go in and recover what was left.