A poacher who was intending to hunt rhinos at Kruger National Park in South Africa was trampled by an elephant and then eaten by a pride of lions. The poacher reportedly lost his life after being trampled by the elephant, but the lions returned later to feed on his remains. This is not to be confused with the poacher that we reported on several weeks ago who lost his life at the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa in a similar fashion. This is a new and recent incident that was just reported this week.
The poacher who was killed was reportedly a part of a hunting group of five. After watching their friend get trampled by an elephant, the four other poachers fled in terror and were eventually picked up by police.
The poachers were reportedly so scared that they called the police on themselves.
“According to the family of the deceased, they were called by his accomplices who notified them that their relative had been killed by an elephant while they were in the KNP to poach a rhino on Tuesday evening,” media spokesperson Isaac Phaahla said.
According to a press release:
Four other poachers who fled the game reserve in South Africa in terror were picked up by police and explained how a member of their gang had been killed. They were then picked up by the police and told them how a member of their gang had been killed. Recalling the story the group described how an angry elephant surprised them as they stalked endangered rhino and stamped their friend to death giving them a chance to run for safety.
Kruger Park Rangers immediately set out for the area – known as Crocodile Bridge – and sent up their airwing in a bid to find the poacher’s remains before darkness fell. Ranger Don English led the team out again at first light on Wednesday having reassured the distraught poacher’s family he would do his best to recover the body. But the rangers team had no luck and re-interviewed the captured poachers in a bid to get more detail as to where the elephant attacked and killed their friend. The rangers then managed to find what was left of the poacher on Thursday but it appeared he had been eaten by a lion pride. All that was left to bring back into camp was the poacher’s bloodied head and a pair of his pants.
Managing executive of KNP, Glenn Phillips expressed sympathy for the victim and his family, but cautioned that it is very dangerous to enter a reserve unauthorized.
“Entering the Kruger illegally and on foot is not wise as it holds very many dangers and this incident is clear evidence of that. It was very sad to see the daughters of the deceased man mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains,” Phillips added.
It is estimated that there are roughly 29,000 rhinos in the world and somewhere around 80 percent of them are located in South Africa. According to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, poachers killed 1,028 rhino across South Africa in 2017.
Rhino horns can be sold for up to $100,000 per kilogram, which is just over two pounds. Considering that most of these horns weigh an average of two to seven pounds each, a poacher could make anywhere between $300,000 and $7,000 off of a single rhino horn. However, these high prices are unique to specific areas in Asia where some cultures believe that horns and tusks of certain animals have important medicinal qualities. On the black market in South Africa, these horns fetch a much lower price, typically around $3,000 per pound.
Wildlife poachers are posing an increasing threat to endangered species, as hunters are moving into wildlife preserves in search of high-value animals. To fight back against the poachers, Kenya has taken the measure of implementing the death penalty for anyone caught hunting endangered animals in these areas.
Najib Balala, the country’s tourism and wildlife minister, says that the high fines that were imposed on poachers in the past were not an adequate deterrent.
“We have in place the Wildlife Conservation Act that was enacted in 2013 and which fetches offenders a life sentence or a fine of US$200,000. However, this has not been deterrence enough to curb poaching, hence the proposed stiffer sentence,” Balala said.
Last year, Balala fast-tracked the death penalty measure into law.
The ministry reported that there has been a significant reduction in rhino and elephant poaching in recent years.
Do you think South Africa and other countries should implement similar penalties?