Police say lions attacked and killed the suspected poacher in a private game park, leaving “just his head and some remains”.
A suspected poacher has been mauled to death and eaten by a pride of lions, police have revealed. They said that little was left of the victim’s body after he was attacked close to Kruger National Park in South Africa.
The remains were found at the weekend in the bush at a private game park near Hoedspruit in the northern province of Limpopo, where animals have been poached in increasing numbers over recent years. ‘It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions.
They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains,’ Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP. A loaded hunting rifle was found near the body on Saturday morning. Police are trying to establish the victim’s identity.
Last year, several lions were found poisoned near a farm in the same province with their heads and paws sawn off.
Lion body parts are used in traditional medicine. Poachers also often target rhinoceroses in South Africa’s game parks to feed a booming demand for rhino horn in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, where it is believed to have medicinal qualities.
Lion parts are also used by African Sangomas, (traditional healers) who use the lion parts in their spells and incantations.
A prominent Limpopo traditional healer, who wished to remain anonymous, said certain parts of a lion are used as strong muti to cast a spell to protect people from rare ailments and to woo customers to a business.
“Other people use the muti to scare their enemies and protect themselves from attacks. In this regard, a traditional healer would use the heart or the adrenal glands,” said the healer.
Some other healers use the brains of lions to become strong, respected and feared within the community, he added.
WWF estimates that there are just 20,000 African lions left in the wild, and that 75% of the species’ populations are in decline.