South African poacher eaten by lions: Authorities seek to identify presumed big game hunter after being mauled to death by a pride of lions at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve.
A big cat poacher has died after being killed and eaten by a pride of lions he’d been hunting along a private game reserve in South Africa.
Witnesses told of hearing the luckless hunter screaming for help whilst being attacked at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in Hoedspruit outside Phalaborwa.
Despite any effort to rescue the man, local reports told of the lions ‘quickly’ killing their victim and devouring his body before being chased off, leaving his head untouched.
Police initially believed the dead man was a tractor driver who worked at the game reserve.
But when he turned up alive, they realized he may have been a poacher. A hunting rifle was found close to what was left of the blood drenched body.
To date, authorities have yet to identify the victim who was mauled to death Saturday morning.
Following the mauling, police in Limpopo requested the assistance of the Department of Home Affairs in helping them identify the dead man, who was not carrying documents.
Told Police Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe via AFP, ‘The process of identifying this body has already commenced and it might be made easier as his head was amongst the remains found at the scene’.
The owner of the reserve, who identified himself as Josh, said he was told not to speak to the media because the police investigation was still under way.
A local worker, from a nearby nature reserve, described the area as lion territory, saying, ‘The head was still there but the lions had eaten most of the rest.
‘A scream was heard and the lions were scattered by the sound of gunshots but it was too late to do anything for him. He was eaten’.
Ngoepe confirmed police were investigating the possibility the deceased might have been a poacher after a hunting rifle was found near the scene.
South African poacher eaten by lions: The increasing trade of illicit poaching considered.
The mauling follows lions killing up to 250 people a year in Africa with a male weighing 190kg and a female 130kg, with lions able to run at speeds of over 80kph.
Last year, several lions were found poisoned near a farm in the same province with their heads and paws sawn off.
Lion body parts are used in traditional medicine.
While rhinos are by far the most poached animal in South Africa, conservationists are concerned about lions, too.
In 2017, statistics showed that the wild lion population dropped from 30 000 to 20 000 reports the southafrican.
In an article by Simon Bloch on lion poaching, Kelly Marnewick, the manager of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s carnivore conservation program, said:
‘We are very concerned about the increase in poaching incidents of lions.’ She also said that, ‘These incidents appear to be linked to the trade in their body parts. We do not have a good understanding of the trade in lion parts and what drives it. However, it is clear that poaching is an increasing threat to lions and needs to be urgently addressed.’
Their bones have become highly prized in the the Far East with a skeleton fetching up to £7,000 ($9700 USD) and the skin £3,000. Teeth can fetch £500 each reports the dailymail.
Responding to the attack, British wildlife photographer Charlie Lynham, 59, said it remained unclear whether the attack had happened inside Ingwelala or in a neighboring reserve.
‘It turns out it was not the resident pride that lives here responsible as they were on a buffalo kill at the time of the incident but a pride perhaps come over from the Kruger (National Park),’he said.
‘It happened on the border of the Umbabat Game Reserve after dark and may have been on their reserve.
‘Two .456 big game rifles and ammunition were found at the scene and that is the weapon of choice used by those hunting big game – especially elephant and rhino in the bush.
‘I cannot say if it was poachers as the matter is under investigation but that is their weapon of choice and they usually work in groups of three and work under cover of darkness. Two sets of footprints have been found running away and obviously the dead and eaten man.’
Mr Lynham said there were no anti-poaching groups in the area at the time and nobody was working in the area.
But he added that, despite being speculation ‘it would seem very possible that you have poetic justice here.’
‘Lions are not a particular danger in daylight but after dark, then that is another matter.
‘It is purely speculation on my part but it would seem they either walked into a pride of lions in the darkness or they were stalked and attacked and a man was taken down and eaten.
‘The other two it seems ran off and two .456 big game rifles were found and ammunition.
He said he had been photographing the Ingwelala pride for years and was ‘concerned in case it was them in case they got accused of attacking humans and there were calls to kill them.’
‘But it was not our pride and was probably one from the Kruger that come over the border,’ he said.
‘If you go out walking in the bush in the dark then I am afraid you are fair game in the wild and there is no way that anyone can attribute any blame to those lions for this kill.’
The incident comes just months after poacher Luteni Muhararukua was charged and killed by a rhino he was hunting for its horn in nearby Namibia.