SALT LAKE CITY — A man believed to be a rhino poacher was killed by an elephant in a South African park last Thursday and later had his remains eaten by a pride of lions, according to park officials, The New York Times reports.
Officials at Kruger National Park said the man’s family was notified of his death by his accomplices, who informed them that their relative had been killed by an elephant while the group was poaching a rhino in the park last Tuesday.
Park officials conducted an on-ground and in-air search for the man’s body after his family contacted them, but did not immediately find his remains due to retreating daylight, according to TheNew York Times.
The remains of the man, who has been left unidentified by park officials, were found Thursday, according to CBS News.
There were indications on the scene that a pride of lions had devoured the man’s body, leaving only a skull and a pair of pants, according to park officials.
Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of KNP, commended search party members and offered condolences to the family of the deceased.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” Phillips said in a statement, according to CBS. “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.”
Kruger National Park is billed as South Africa’s “most exciting African safari destination” with “vast landscapes and spectacular African wildlife.”
KNP is also known for being home to Africa’s “Big Five”: elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards and buffalos. The KNP is reportedly home to between 9,000 and 12,000 white rhinos and around 600 black rhinos.11 comments on this story
According to the KNP, rhinos in the park are being poached and butchered at an “alarming and escalating rate.”
In February of this year, four poachers were arrested in the KNP, one who was also a South African National Parks employee, according to South Africa’s Independent Online.
KNP reports that poachers in the park are highly organized and have “sophisticated technology” at their disposal.
Park officials have been working with crime units and prosecutors to end poaching in the country, according to the KNP.