Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Rhino poachers killed by lions at a South African game reserve

"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 victor".

A trained guard on the reserve, who was equipped with a dog that is specially trained to detect poachers, was alerted to commotion coming from the lions about 4:30 in the morning on Monday.

In 2016, poachers hacked off the horns and killed three rhinos at the Sibuya Game Reserve.

At this point in the investigation, it's unclear how many poachers were killed by the lions.

Anti-poaching rangers on a routine patrol in the Sibuya Game Reserve, near Kenton-on-Sea in Eastern Province, found the remains of the hunters, along with high-powered rifles, an axe, wire-cutters and enough food and water for several days.

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They found a rifle with a silencer, an axe, wire cutters, three pairs of boots, and three pairs of gloves, along with various body parts. "All the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns". Instead, they met their own demise when a pride of lions attacked and killed them.

A May 2018 "60 Minutes" report revealed that they are being slaughtered at the shocking rate of three a day at the hands of poachers like the group killed in Sibuya. She said, "We do not know identities, but firearms have been taken by the police and will be sent to the ballistics laboratory to see if they have been used in poaching before".

Fox said the ax confirmed that they were rhino poachers, since they use an ax to remove the rhino's horn after shooting it.

He says the reserve's wildlife veterinarian darted the lions so that police forensic investigators could search for evidence.

"Although we will continue to be extremely vigilant we remain positive that this incident will not necessitate any changes to the status quo", he said. According to stats from the South African government, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa previous year.

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