(Gray News) – A man who entered a South African national park this week as part of a team aiming to poach rhino instead wound up getting killed by an elephant and then eaten by a pride of lions, wildlife officials announced on Friday.
The man’s family was notified by other poachers who had entered the park with him, and they enlisted officials at Kruger National Park, in the country’s northeast, to help find his remains.
During the search, according to South African National Parks, “the remains of a body were discovered.”
“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,” a release said.
Four others from the poaching team were arrested and are in custody, and will later appear in court, according to South African National Parks.
Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of Kruger National Park, expressed his condolences for the daughters of the poacher in the release and for the family “only being able to recover very little of his remains.”
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” he said.
A small group of poachers was also killed last summer by lions in South Africa at Sibuya Game Reserve, in another well-publicized incident.
Rhino poaching has been a rampant problem for African wildlife preserves, with the animal's horns highly prized in Asia where it is believed to have medicinal effects, particularly in China.
The organization Save The Rhino states: "When used, the horn is shaved or ground into a powder, before being dissolved in boiling water and consumed."
According to the group, traditional Chinese medical practice believes the concoction can help treat fever, rheumatism, gout, snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning and "devil possession."
In the Asian black market they can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single horn.
“They are seeing dollar signs,” Michael Slattery of the Texas Christian University Rhino Initiative told The New York Times. "It is more expensive than gold and cocaine, so the demand is driving these poachers.”
In South Africa alone, more than 7,000 rhino have been killed in the last decade, according to the BBC.