Three Poachers Eaten Alive by Lions While Trying to Hunt Rhino

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Just days after a big game hunter's giraffe trophy went viral as people shared their disgust and outrage, another story is making headlines.

This time, however, a group of poachers crept onto a wildlife preserve with the intention of killing a rhinoceros.

Things did not go their way, because they were found and devoured by lions.

Lion Gnaws on a Bone

On Thursday, the Sibuya Game Preserve issued a press release, written by preserve owner Nick Fox.

"Sometime during the night of Sunday 1st and early hours of Monday 2nd July," the release begins. "A group of at least three poachers entered Sibuya Game Reserve."

Horrifying that this still happens, even on wildlife preserves.

But this time, things did not go as the poachers had planned.

The release details: "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."

Gruesome tools.

The release notes that these are "all the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns."

Lions gif

They believe that these hunters became the hunted at some time around 4:30am on Monday morning.

But they did not discover the remains for another day and a half.

"At about 4.30 pm on Tuesday 3rd July," the release continues. "One of our field guides on game drive alerted the Anti-Poaching Unit that there appeared to be human remains as well as other items in the immediate vicinity of the lions."

In terms of body parts, they found one human skull and a fragment of a human pelvis.

They identified that there were three victims based upon finding three pairs of gloves, and the knowledge that rhino-poachers tend to work in threes.

"Clearly," Fox's release says. "The poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all had been killed."

They used a helicopter to search for any fleeing survivors, but found no trace.

Lion Photo

"At this stage it is not clear exactly how many poachers were killed but the Police forensic team continue to investigate," the release says.

When this news broke, many animal rights advocates were of course relieved at the news that a rhino had been spared from a grisly fate.

Those happy thoughts turned grim, however, when people began to worry about the fate of the lions themselves. Would they, people feared, be euthanized?

In a follow-up post, the Sibuya Game Preservea ddressed those concerns.

"We have received many questions relating to the future of the six lions involved in the tragic incident surrounding the killing of suspected poachers," the post begins.

You can stop holding your breath -- the lions are not going to be killed.

lion tranquilized

(Please note that this particular lion in the photograph has been tranquilized so that he can be monitored for conservation efforts)

"The six lions involved were darted (anesthetized) from a game viewing vehicle," the post explains. "And their reaction to the vehicle at that time was closely monitored by myself, the veterinary staff as well as our conservation staff."

The post is happy to announce that "their behaviour appeared no different from that exhibited towards these vehicles over the last ten years."

In other words, there is no indication that these lions have suddenly realized that humans are delicious, easy prey and are not preparing to drag innocent biologists out of their cars for a snack.

"Although we will continue to be extremely vigilant," the post says. "We remain positive that this incident will not necessitate any changes to the status quo of our lions."

Lion in an Enclosure

This should serve as a reminder that lions are powerful predators who view humans traveling on foot as potential prey.

They may be beautiful, but they should be photographed from afar under the guidance of those who are truly experienced with African wildlife.

Or, you know, at a zoo.

Many hope that this event will be a stern reminder to poachers that perhaps they should not be in a line of work that involves snuffing out an innocent life in order to cut off part of its face.

Sometimes, people who sneak into wildlife preserves get eaten.

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