Lions devour rhino poacher trampled to death by an elephant

Roland Oliphant
The lions left the man's head and his trousers - REX

A suspected rhino poacher met a gruesome end when he was trampled to death by an elephant before being eaten by a pride of lions. 

The unnamed man was in a group of several poachers stalking endangered rhino in South Africa's Kruger National Park when they were ambushed by a furious pachyderm on Tuesday evening. 

The man's family alerted Don English, the Skukuza regional ranger,  after the surviving poachers told them what had happened. 

But a search for the man's remains had to be called off because of failing light, and it was not until Thursday evening they discovered the man's bloodied head and a few items of clothing, including trousers and a shoe. 

"Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants. Skukuza police were notified immediately and are currently busy with further investigations into the incident," the park said in a statement. 

Four other members of the illegal hunting party were arrested and are expected to appear in court soon.  

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Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of KNP, said: “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.” 

The Kruger National Park is one of South Africa's most popular tourist attractions, but has frequently been targeted by poachers.

Rhino poaching surged in South Africa last decade amid increasing demand for their horns in China and the far east.  Over 1000 of the animals were poached in the country in 2017, according to official figures. 

In July last year at least three poachers were eaten by a lion pride at the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa's Eastern Province. In February the same year police found a mauled human head next to a loaded rifle in a game reserve in the Limpopo province.