A suspected rhino poacher in South Africa met a gruesome death in an attack by other wild animals.
A skull and a pair of pants were the only remains found after an elephant killed the man and a pack of lions ate the body Tuesday at Kruger National Park, a news release from the South African National Parks said.
Relatives of the victim, whose name has not been released, had notified park authorities after being informed by four others who were with him of his fate. A two-day search for his body turned up only scant evidence at the popular game reserve in the northeastern part of the country, but enough for officials to make an identification.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers, and this incident is evidence of that,’’ park managing executive Glenn Phillips said in a statement. “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 a protected area, but poaching rhinos remains a major problem because the price for their horns has skyrocketed to $27,000 a pound – or $1,700 per ounce, $400 more than the current price of gold – according to the website poachingfacts.com.
The horns are treasured in some Asian countries, particularly in Vietnam, as an ingredient in traditional medicine, as an aphrodisiac and as a symbol of wealth.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, a wilderness-preservation group, said the number of rhinos poached in South Africa soared from 13 in 2007 to 1,215 in 2014, despite efforts by the government to deter the killings. The WWF considers black rhinos “critically endangered’’ and white rhinos “near threatened.’’
In a report last year, South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa called rhino poaching “a national priority crime’’ and said 446 of the 502 arrests made for that activity the previous year had taken place in and around Kruger National Park. As of 2016, there were an estimated 7,000 to 8,300 rhinos in the park.
Last’s week’s incident is being investigated and the four people who had been with the hunter are under arrest awaiting a court date.
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