The 21st century is not a good time for the rhinoceros. Because rhino horn is used in folk medicine (primarily in Asian cultures), the massive land mammal has been hunted nearly to extinction. Fortunately, the big guys (and ladies) aren’t fighting the fight alone. Conservationists are working tirelessly to propagate the species. And now, it looks like lions have joined the fight.
On July 3, rangers in Sibuya Game Reserve discovered the remains of three poachers. Along with the sparse remains was a hunting rifle with a silencer, a long axe, and wire cutters. According to authorities, these tools indicate the men were poachers.
“Sometime during the night of Sunday 1st and early hours of Monday 2nd July 2018, a group of at least three poachers entered Sibuya Game Reserve,” said Nick Fox, the owner of Sibuya Game Reserve.
“They were armed with, amongst other things, a high powered rifle with a silencer, an axe, wire cutters and had food supplies for a number of days – all the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns,” Fox continued. “They were obviously poachers. The axe that was found on the scene is what is used to by these poachers to hack off the horn after they kill the animal.”
The BBC reports that several of the lions had to be sedated in order to move the human remains. It took some time, because “not much was left of them,” according to Fox.
Even though the population of southern white rhinos in Africa is reviving, the World Wildlife Federation still considers the species to be “near threatened.” Rhinos in Asia aren’t faring much better, either. The Sumatran and Javan rhino species are considered “critically endangered” and the Indian is considered to be “vulnerable” due to the threat of poaching.
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