A pack of hungry lions devoured the remains of a suspected Rhino poacher shortly after he was trampled to death by an elephant in a South African national park.
A search team was only able to recover a skull and pair of pants after the unidentified man entered Kruger National Park last week with four other poachers to hunt Rhinos.
The four men, who had successfully fled the game reserve, described their shock and horror at watching an elephant trample their friend to death before running to safety.
The hunters first notified the man’s family of the incident late Tuesday, who in turn contacted park rangers.
A search party set off on foot and by helicopter to retrieve the body, with police discovering the man’s remains on Thursday morning.
Local police said a suspected poacher was “suddenly” attacked and killed by an elephant, then devoured by a pride of lions, “leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants”.
“Police received information that some men had gone poaching in the KNP on 1 April 2019, when suddenly an elephant attacked and killed one of them.
“His accomplices claimed to have carried his body to the road so that passersby could find it in the morning. They then vanished from the park,” police said in a statement.
Kruger National Park’s managing executive, Glen Phillips, extended his condolences to the man’s family after confirming that he had illegally gained entry to the park.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” Mr Phillips said.
“It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.”
Mr Phillips commended the search party for finding what was left of the poacher to give the family “some closure”.
Police launched a joint intelligence-driven operation in search of the dead poacher’s accomplices, resulting in the arrest of three men, aged between 26 and 35.
During the operation, two hunting rifles and ammunition were seized.
The three alleged hunters appeared in Komatipoort Magistrate Court on Friday to face charges of possessing firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach and trespassing.
They were remanded in custody and are due to appear again in court on April 12, pending a formal bail application.