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Hunters died in Sibuya Game Reserve

09 July 2018

In February a poacher was killed by lions in the Umbabat Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park, and his family were forced to identify him using all that was left - his head.

It's unclear how many people were killed on the reserve at this time.

Field guides on a game drive Tuesday evening reported that they'd discovered human remains as well as other items "in the immediate vicinity of the lions".

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Sibuya reserve owner Nick Fox said in a statement on the reserve's Facebook page that the suspected poachers entered the reserve late on Sunday night or early on Monday morning. At the same time, the handler heard a loud commotion coming from the lions, which she then suspected was the reasoning behind why the dog got her attention to begin with. Authorities believe the men entered the game reserve in the early hours of Monday; they were found dismembered the following day, the news agency reports. Instead, they met their own demise when a pride of lions attacked and killed them.

And in perhaps the most heartbreaking act of conservation, park rangers in some parts of Africa are preemptively removing rhinos' horns so that poachers won't be tempted to kill the animals for them.

Mr Fox said: "The lions may have eaten more of them it is hard to tell as the area is very thick with bush and you can not be sure what they have taken off to feed on elsewhere".

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The lions were shot with tranquilizer darts to protect reserve employees and police who were involved in the recovery effort on Wednesday.

"We thought they must have been rhino poachers but the ax confirmed it", Fox said. Reserve staff immediately called the Association of Eastern Cape Game Reserves Anti-Poaching Cluster and the police.

After ensuring the lions were not a threat to tourists, Fox said there will not be any changes to "the status quo of our lions".

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More than 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa past year.

Hunters died in Sibuya Game Reserve