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Oh, Well: Suspected Rhino Poacher Killed By An Elephant -- Then Devoured By Lions

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Image via Keren Su/Katja Forster / EyeEm/Getty Images

Animals in a South African game reserve gave a poacher exactly what he deserved

A suspected rhino poacher was delivered a heavy dose of karma last week when he was killed by an elephant, only to have his remains devoured by a pride of lions before they could be recovered. Occupational hazard for one of the most damaging jobs on the planet, I guess.

Reports say a group of men entered Kruger National Park, which borders South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, on foot on Monday, likely in search of a rhino to kill for its horn. Officials say the men were suddenly attacked by an elephant, which killed one of them.

The others in the group carried the man’s remains to a road, so he would be discovered by passersby in the morning, which is a pretty messed up thing to do, considering basically all passersby on roads in Kruger are tourists on vacation.

Police say after leaving the body, the rest of the men left the park and called a relative of the deceased to let them know what had happened. They also called police, who dispatched Kruger National Park rangers to attempt to locate the body.

But rangers didn’t find the body, because after it was left on the side of the road, it was eaten by a pride of lions. Officials were only able to locate the dead man’s skull and pants. Later, three other men from the group were arrested, and police seized guns and ammunition at the time of the arrests.

“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” Kruger National Park’s managing executive, Glenn Phillips, said in a statement. “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.”

While this man’s family absolutely does not deserve the pain they must be feeling right now, poaching is a horrific crime that devastates Africa’s native wildlife. Rhino populations in many parts of the continent are teetering on the edge of extinction, and while careful protection and captive breeding programs are helping these beautiful animals recover, they’re far from safe in the wild.

Kruger National Park is a protected game reserve where vulnerable and endangered animals should be able to live in peace. I was lucky enough to visit there this year and see first hand what a magical place it is.

Yet the park sees arrests of hundreds of poachers each year. In 2017, 446 suspected poachers and traffickers were arrested there, and 504 rhinos were successfully poached within the park’s borders, just that year.

The three men who were arrested now face charges of possession of firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach and trespassing. They were remanded by the court at their first appearance last week, and they’re due to appear again in court Friday, where they’ll learn if they’ll be granted bail.

We can only hope the justice system will serve them the rest of the karma they deserve, and they’re put away for their role in trying to kill some of Earth’s most beautiful endangered animals.

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