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Watch: Poachers slaughter pride of 16 lions to sell claws, paws & teeth

Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching
Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching in South Africa.
Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching
Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching in South Africa. Images via Jamie Pyatt.

Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching in South Africa leads to 8 adult lions and their cubs, for a total of 16 wild animals being slaughtered for body parts. 

Disconcert has come to the fore following the revelation of poachers in South Africa killing a pride of up to 8 adult lions and their cubs. Wildlife officials told of wild animals having their faces and paws hacked off along with their teeth to sell to overseas collectors as well being used for black magic potions.

Notice of the illicit poaching came after Predators Rock Bush Lodge owner, Gert Blom, 51, woke up on Friday not to hear his lion pride roaring as usual at dawn.

The Rustenburg nature predator reserve owner went down to their enclosure, where he discovered two male lions and six lionesses missing. Following drag trails behind a perimeter wall, he found them all butchered, News24 reports.

In total 16 lions had been slaughtered.

Gert said: ‘They had hacked off 32 paws for the claws and eight of their snouts for their teeth after killing them with poisoned chicken which is a really agonizing death for the lions.

‘It is cruelty that is beyond belief and an absolutely terrible sight to behold when you see magnificent predators lying there covered in flies minus their faces and their paws’.

‘Two of the lionesses were about to give birth…’

The slaughters occurred just as two of the lionesses had been within 24 hours of giving birth. A post mortem showed that they died with 3 unborn cubs inside each according to the dailymail.

Another lioness had given birth the day before she was poisoned and two of her cubs were found dead and it is thought they probably died after suckling milk that was poisoned.

Offered Gert: ‘With the eight dead cubs – six unborn and the two that were almost certainly poisoned from their mother’s milk – that means the poachers effectively killed 16 lions.

‘Two of the lionesses were about to give birth which makes this all the more tragic’ he said after the lions were killed early Friday morning at the predator park in North West Province.

Luckily one cub named Yoda who did not drink her mothers’ poisoned milk survived and now at just two days old is being bottle fed milk by Gert.

He said: ‘They got over two 2.4m game fences and a 2.4m brick wall then threw poisoned chicken carcasses into the lion enclosure which is protected by a final electric fence.

‘When the lions were dead they used bolt croppers on the gates to avoid the electric wires around the top and then dragged the lions behind out and behind a wall to butcher them.

‘We have found four sets of footprints so we know there were four poachers here’ he said.

The poisoned lions of the pride were all aged between three and four years old.

The male lions were called Aslan and Hollow and the females Noela, Sia, Sussie, Misty, Lilly, and Frye.

The poachers laced chicken carcasses with Aldicarb which is a poison known as ‘Two Step’ locally often used by burglars to kill guard dogs which paralyses the respiratory system.

Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching
Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching. Photo via Jamie Pyatt.

No arrests or suspects: 

Filming the macabre scene, Gert said on video: ‘I hope that anybody who has any information on these poachers after seeing this film calls the police.

‘They did this to this magnificent animals just for their teeth and their claws’.

Predators Rock is also an officially registered breeding facility that aims to improve the numbers of endangered animals in South Africa and provides animals to zoos at home and abroad.

Told South African Police spokesman Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone: ‘Eight lions were killed and we are investigating the crime but as of now there have no arrests of anyone yet’.

Traditional witch doctors or healers us the lion body parts to make potions known as ‘muti’ for local customers who believe it gives them powers to ward off evil spirts or bring luck.

The predator park is spread over 152 acres and as well as lions is home to tigers, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, hyenas, crocodiles and many types of antelope.

To date no arrests or suspects have been apprehended.

16 lions poached South Africa
Predators Rock Bush Lodge Rustenburg poaching in South Africa.

How an attempt to clamp down on supply of wild animal body parts failed to address pent up demand:

Friday’s macabre scene follows poachers in November hacking off the heads and paws of five lions which made up the entire pride at Sunward Ranch in Brits, Limpopo Province, belonging to Menno Parsons.

Earlier that month poachers poisoned four more lions but were chased off before they could take their body parts at Chameleon Village Lion Park at Hartbeespoort near Johannesburg.

In October the pride of lions who ruled the largest urban game reserve in the world was butchered at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve at Pretoria with all their four lions butchered.

In July last year Christa Sayman, 55, lost six lions to poachers who hacked off the heads and paws of four fully grown lions and also killed two other lion cubs at her lion park.

And in May last year at the Jugomara Predator Park in Limpopo Province owner Justin Fernandes, 32, had three lions and a rare white tiger hacked to bits for body parts.

In April last year Gert Claasen, 48, had three lions butchered and three more stolen to be killed and butchered later at his game reserve in Petrus Steyn in Free State Province.

A complete lion skeleton can be bought in South Africa for $1300 but in Vietnam it is worth $65K and the individual claws and teeth of a lion are highly prized.

A traditional healer from Limpopo who would not be named said: ‘The lion body parts are used to make strong muti which is a witchcraft potion made by healers to cast spells.

These can be used to protect a person from illness or cure them or make them strong or virile or even used to scare enemies away or prevent them from being attacked’ she said.

It is feared lion bones are now becoming sought after to replace the far rarer tiger bones in demand in South East Asia and are being smuggled out for use in traditional medicines. 

Ironically, the heightened poaching follows South Africa’s, Fish and Wildlife Service 2016 banning of imports of captive-bred lion trophies which designated selected wild animals for ‘parts’.  

Prior to the ban, some 8,000 lions had been bred for the sole purpose of being hunted and kept on game ranches. Untold hunters—mostly Americans—were known to pay handsomely to kill the lions within the confines of walls and fences, a practice known as ‘canned lion hunting’. Following their ‘kill’, hunters would be permitted to import body parts back to the US. 

The decision at the time was widely lauded, with conservationists and animal rights advocates claiming ‘canned hunts’ serve no conservation purpose because hand-reared lions cannot be released into the wild. Research also showed the animals often suffering in captivity.

Despite measures to stem the supply of ‘wild animal body’ parts, demand continues to remain bountiful, with poachers now stepping in to meet unrelenting demand.

16 lions poached South Africa
Pictured surviving cub from Rustenburg Predators reserve which hadn’t fed off it’s mother’s poisoned milk.