When a poacher recently snuck into Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, he got more than he bargained for. Most likely looking to illegally hunt the kings and queens of the plains, the poacher was mauled by a pride of lions. The unidentified man lost his life and local authorities are calling it karma…
Check it out per National Geographic:
The body of what authorities suspect was a poacher was found mauled by a pride of lions in South Africa last Friday.
According to local reports, much of the male body was eaten, making it difficult to identify. However, nearby, a hunting rifle and ammunition were found.
The man’s body was discovered inside Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve, a private game reserve near the famed Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa. Because the man was allegedly intruding on the reserve and found with weapons, authorities believe he was there for poaching.
Whether he was there to specifically poach lions can’t be determined without more direct evidence.
Local outlet Sowetan Live quotes a local reserve employee who describes the area as “lion territory.”
The region has historically seen higher levels of rhino poaching, which is a more lucrative animal to kill illegally. In 2017, rhino poaching in the region declined slightly. The Kruger area saw a drastic increase from the 13 rhinos killed in 2007 to the more than 1,000 killed in 2014. In parts of Asia, the horn is in high demand, where it’s used as an (ineffective) form of alternative medicine or carved into works of art.
Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes studies market influences on poaching at the University of Oxford and was in South Africa at the time the body was found.
“If you look at the economics of poaching, these guys are taking a risk. It’s got to be worth their while,” he said. “The probability [of being caught] and penalty is about the same… but the price for lion body parts is way lower than rhino horn.”
When lions are poached, Sas-Rolfes says it’s sometimes a revenge killing or a matter of opportunistic circumstance.
“The body parts taken are typically teeth and claws. At the moment, it isn’t a huge epidemic,” he says, though he added that the price of lion fangs may be increasing. Still, he is quick to say he doesn’t want to characterize lion parts as becoming more lucrative because this perception can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
There are good reasons that these animals are protected by national and international law. Besides being illegal, it’s unethical to hunt an animal that already doesn’t exist in sufficient quantities to maintain a stable population.
Lions are a special species that deserve our respect and our help. By limiting the efforts of poachers, we can ensure that generations to come can enjoy and watch these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
What do you think of the poacher getting what he deserves?