In a bit of poetic justice, a group of suspected rhino poachers who snuck into the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa last week became an unlikely meal for a pride of lions.
A guide at the game reserve discovered human remains strewn across a thickly vegetated area near the lions last week. Due to the condition of the remains, it was impossible to know how many people were killed; however, investigators found three pairs of boots and three pairs of gloves, indicating that there were likely at least three poachers.
In addition to the remains, officials found a high-powered rifle with a silencer, wire cutters, and an ax — all weapons used to kill and de-horn endangered rhinos.
Reserve owner Nick Fox believes that the poachers made their way onto the reserve Sunday night or early Monday morning by foot, which is extremely dangerous. He explained that reserve staff and guests never venture near the lions unless they’re in large trucks, as it is unsafe otherwise.
“The general consensus in the game industry is that lions view a game viewing vehicle containing people as something entirely different from individuals who are walking on the ground,” he said in a press release on Facebook.
Apparently, the poachers were willing to take the risk — and it didn’t turn out so well for them.
“Clearly, the poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all had been killed,” said Fox.
In 2016, poachers slaughtered three rhinos on the same reserve, hacking off their horns and leaving their bodies to decompose in the African sun.
Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are sold illegally in Asia for their alleged medicinal properties — despite the fact that the horn is made of keratin, the same content of fingernails. Conservationists are working tirelessly to end the ongoing slaughter of these animals and put a stop to the black market trade.