A man who was devoured by a pack of lions at a South African nature reserve is thought to have been a poacher attempting to hunt the animals.
The unknown man was attacked by the pride in bush area at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve, in the northeastern province of Limpopo, reports Independent Online (IOL).
“His screams for help raised the alarm but the lions quickly killed the man and devoured most of his body before being chased off,” says the London Evening Standard.
Police initially believed that the body belonged to a tractor driver who worked on the reserve, but further investigation revealed that no staff members were missing.
“The person who was thought to be an employee who got stuck whilst driving a tractor is in fact alive,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe told Sowetan Live.
The discovery of a loaded hunting rifle near the mangled remains has led investigators to suspect the dead man may have been a poacher attempting to kill one of the valuable animals.
“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,” Ngoepe said.
Police are now attempting to identify the deceased, a task made easier “by the fact that his head is amongst the remains that were found at the scene,” Ngoepe added.
Last year, several lions “were found poisoned near a farm in the same province, with their heads and paws sawn off”, IOL reports.
Lion teeth and bones can fetch thousands of pounds in East Asia, where they are a component in traditional medicines, often as a substitute for increasingly rare tiger bones.