Rangers in South Africa have discovered the remains of two maybe three people in the Sibuya reserve. Nick Fox, the owner of the private game reserve in Easter Cape Providence said that the rangers had come across the remains of the men suspected of being poachers. The men had been killed by lions in an area densely packed with thorn bushes. “There was nothing we could do before that. It was getting dark, to unsafe to be on foot. Once lions have taken down a human, you cannot be on the ground with them,” Fox said.

The rangers had to shoot the lions with darts in order to get the remains of the suspected poachers back. It was clear from the high-caliber rifle and an ax that was found that these men where hunting rhino horns. There was also food to last several days and a wire cutter for getting through fences.

The hunt for Rhino horns is a lucrative and illicit trade. Each horn is worth about $9,000 per pound in Asia. In China, it’s used in traditional medicine and is considered a status symbol. According to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, “South Africa is home to about 20,000 wild rhinos, more than 80 percent of the world’s population. About one-third of the animals are owned by private breeders. Since 2008, more than 7,000 rhinos have been hunted illegally, with 1,028 killed in 2017.”

People suspected of being poachers have been killed by lions in South Africa before. In February, a man’s mauled body was found in a reserve near Kruger National Park. Mr. Fox who established is a game reserve, called Sibuya in 2003 said there was “virtually no poaching at all in the Easter Cape until 2010 when suddenly it became a serious problem. There are more poachers now, and they are very well equipped.”

Mr. Fox estimates that it will cost him nearly $73,000 a year to hire an army of people to protect his reserve. In March of 2016, he lost three rhinos to poaching.

According to Annette Hübschle, a researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Center of Criminology, “Rhino horn has huge value, so even low-level poachers can make a lot of money. Selling a single horn can exceed the yearly income of most rural people.”

 

[usa today]