Police in the province of Limpopo in South Africa say that a man who was suspected to have been a poacher was eaten by lions near Kruger National Park. The pride of lions nearly ate every piece of the man, leaving only the head, and his weapon behind.
Due to finding the loaded gun near the remains of the man, authorities believe that he was a poacher.
A spokesman for the Limpopo police, Moatshe Ngoepe, said on Monday that there was almost nothing left of the man.
“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions,” said Ngoepe. “They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains.”
The remains of the man were found on the morning of Feb. 10. His identity still has not been revealed and police are still trying to find out who he was.
Remains of the suspected poacher were found in a private game park near Hoedspruit. Poaching is a problem in Limpopo. Last year ,three lions were reportedly poisoned and were found with their paws and heads cut off.
At first it was believed that the victim of the attack was an employee at the park but then the employee was found. Ngoepe added that he hopes the authorities would have help in identifying the man’s remains.
“The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is amongst the remains that were found at the scene,” said Ngoepe.
Lion body parts are used for traditional medicine around the world. There is a demand for lion bones, which are used in traditional medicine in Asian countries, especially in China. This demand for lion bone seems to have grown as tiger bones have been harder to obtain due to laws.
Population numbers for African lions have dropped 43 percent during the years 1993 to 2014. Lions in Africa have a population of just 20,000, South Africa has a population of 3,490. One century ago the number of lions were more than 200,000. Lions no longer roam free in 90 percent of their historical range.
Lions are considered “vulnerable” by the Union for the Conservation of Nature on the Red List of Threatened Species. They are not only sought after for traditional medicine but also in the bushmeat market.