“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone.”
Sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, a group of poachers broke into a wildlife reserve in South Africa to hunt rhinos – only to find that they were the ones being hunted.
Nick Fox, owner of Sibuya Game Reserve, suspects that three men were eaten by a pride of six lions after a staff member found human remains in the area on Tuesday.
In their investigation, authorities found the remaining body parts, three pairs of shoes, wire cutters, a high-powered rifle with a silencer, an axe used for chopping off rhino horns, and food to last several days.
“The only body part we found was one skull and one bit of pelvis, everything else was completely gone,” said Fox. “There is so little left that they don’t know exactly how many people were killed, we suspect three because we found three sets of shoes and three sets of gloves.”
He added that poaching groups usually consist of three members.
According to a police spokesperson, the rifle has been sent to a ballistics lab to see if it has been used in related poaching activities.
Unfortunately, this is only one of many break-ins that Sibuya Game Reserve has dealt with in the last few years. In 2016, three rhinos were shot dead by poachers for their horns.
It’s estimated that there are fewer than 30,000 rhinos left worldwide, and their numbers are dwindling fast, no thanks to poaching. In 2017, some 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa.
“It’s a massive problem. Rhino horn has now become more valuable than gold per gram,” Fox told BuzzFeed News.
“I just thank my lions,” he added. “They saved our rhinos from another onslaught.”