At least three rhino poachers who broke into a South African game reserve on Sunday night or early Monday were fatally mauled and eaten by a pride of lions, agency reports say.
The incident came to light following the discovery of a human skull and bits of body parts in the Sibuya Game Reserve near Kenton, a small coastal town on the Sunshine Coast in Eastern Cape Province.
Owner of the reserve Nick Fox told reporters that besides three pairs of shoes, gloves and food, a high-power hunting rifle with a silencer, a long axe and wire cutters usually used by rhino poachers were recovered from the scene by police.
Lions were tranquilised before recovering the body parts. Since the human remains were scattered over a wide area, it was difficult for investigators and specialists to retrieve all of them, Fox said.
The remains were sent to the forensic laboratory for testing on Wednesday morning while the rifle will be sent to the ballistics laboratory to check if it has been used in any previous poaching incident, police said.
This year alone, some nine rhinos were killed by poachers in Eastern Cape. Rhinos are hunted for their horns which are ever in demand in some Asian countries like China and Vietnam for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.