At least three poachers who broke into a rhinoceros reserve in South Africa received a brutal dose of karma when they were torn to pieces by a pride of lions.
Staff at the Sibuya Game Reserve in Kenton-on-Sea, South Africa discovered the men’s bloody remains on Tuesday, including dismembered limbs and a decapitated head. Several pairs of empty shoes were discovered, indicating that the lions ate the men, although staff say that more remains may be hidden in the thick bush.
“The lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal,” reserve owner Nick Fox told the Daily Express. “Whilst we are saddened at any loss of life, the poachers came here to kill our animals and this sends out a very clear message to any other poachers that you will not always be the winner.”
Fox said that axes, wire cutters, and silenced rifles were found near the poachers’ remains. He added that “they were clearly intent on killing rhinos and cutting off their horns.”
A helicopter searched the rest of the 30-square-mile reserve, but found no other poachers. The firearms have been taken by the police for examination, to find out if they have been used in poaching before.
On the internet, the butchered poachers found no sympathy. “Mother nature always wins…” mused American actor and conservative James Woods. “I do hope the poor lions didn’t suffer indigestion,” said British TV personality Piers Morgan.
Sibuya Game Reserve is home to elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions and leopards, and is popular with tourists. In 2016, poachers successfully killed three of the reserve’s rhinos and made off with their severed horns.
Rhinoceros horn is a lucrative commodity on the black market, particularly in parts of Asia, where it is powdered and marketed to the rich as a cure-all medicine and legendary aphrodisiac. Despite the fact that rhino horn’s virility-boosting and medicinal effects are a myth, powdered horn sells for up to $100,000 per kilogram in Vietnam, worth more than its weight in gold.
More than 1,000 rhinos were killed illegally in South Africa last year, a shocking rise since 2007, when only 13 were killed. South Africa is home to around 80 percent of the world’s 29,000 rhinos, making the country a magnet for poachers. Underfunding and lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies, as well as government corruption make the poachers’ task even easier, said TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade watchdog.
Africa’s 20,000 white rhinos are classified as ‘near threatened,’ while its 5,000 black rhinos are considered ‘critically endangered. The western black subspecies was hunted to extinction in 2011.