Suspected poachers sneaked onto a South African game reserve to hunt rhinos, only to be mauled by lions. Police and an anti-poaching squad later found an axe and three pairs of shoes and gloves.
Lions have mauled to death suspected poachers who entered a South African wildlife reserve to kill rhinos.
Nick Fox, owner of the Sibuya Game Reserve in Eastern Cape province, says human remains were found on Tuesday along with a high-powered rifle, wire cutters and other equipment.
Fox says on Facebook that at least three poachers infiltrated the reserve late on Sunday or early on Monday. He says it is clear that "the poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all," were killed.
Fox says the handler of an anti-poaching dog heard a "loud commotion" coming from the lions early on Monday.
An axe and three pairs of shoes and gloves were found later when police and an anti-poaching unit arrived. The lions had been heard making a commotion in the early hours of Monday.
"We thought they must have been rhino poachers but the axe confirmed it," Fox said. "They use the rifle to shoot the animal and the axe to remove the horn."
He says the reserve's wildlife veterinarian darted the lions so that police forensic investigators could search for evidence.
South Africa is home to more than 80 percent of the world's rhinos, whose population has been depleted by poaching for buyers in Vietnam and China where rhino horn is coveted as an ingredient in traditional medicine.
More than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year.