A suspected poacher apparently looking to illegally bag a lion turned out to be the one being hunted in South Africa this weekend, authorities say.
The man’s body was found partially devoured Saturday morning at a private nature reserve near Kruger National Park, Limpopo police told AFP. A loaded hunting rifle was found next to the body, which remains unidentified. Authorities said the man appeared to have been attacked by a pride of lions.
“They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains,” Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told the news service.
Authorities at first thought he might have been a missing tractor driver, but that man later turned up alive, according to Eyewitness News of South Africa.
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Rhinos are by far the prime target for South African poachers, but the wild lion population dropped from 30,000 to 20,000 in 2017, reported The South African.
In 2017, poachers killed 20 circus lions that had been rescued from South America and set free in a South African big cat sanctuary, reported National Geographic. Lion bones are increasingly being sought for use in traditional medicine, especially as the numbers of wild tigers continue to plummet, the magazine reported.