A man has lost his life after being attacked, and eventually eaten, by a pride of lions whilst on a private game reserve.
The big cat poacher was heard screaming for help whilst on a private game reserve in South Africa, in Hoedspruit outside Phalaborwa. Reports state that despite his calls for help, he was quickly killed by the lions who then ate his entire body, leaving just the head as they were chased off.
Police in Limpopo are now trying to identify the unknown man, who was found to have a hunting rifle next to the remains of his body, causing police to investigate the possibility of him being a poacher. Police Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said, ‘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’, whilst the reserve owner was told not to speak to the media as the investigation was still being conducted.
A local worker added, “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.”
Charlie Lynham, a British wildlife photographer who live near the reserve and has spent many years photographing the resident lions, arrived at the gates just after the paramedics raced into the scene. He said, “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). 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.”
According to Mr Lynham, there were no anti-poaching groups in the area at the time, and 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 concluded, “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.”
I’m Jess Murray, wildlife conservationist, photographer and writer. Follow my Facebook page and Instagram account to be part of the journey. I like to document the natural world and create awareness through my writing so that your future can be sustainable and positive.
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