In what seems like a karmic twist of fate, a suspected poacher in Kruger National Park has been trampled by an elephant and then devoured by a lion pride.
The man’s accomplices have reportedly informed the man’s family. An investigation is ongoing but, so far, everything seems to suggest that it was a poaching party. The four other members of the party have been detained by South African police and are being questioned.
Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of Kruger National Park, extended his condolences to the man’s family.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” he warned. “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 one of Africa’s largest game reserves, hosting (among many others) hundreds of lions, leopards, rhinos, and elephants. Like all such parks, it’s struggling to keep poaching at bay, despite employing an impressive anti-poaching force which includes aircraft, dogs, special rangers and an environmental crime investigation unit.
Out of the 680 poaching and trafficking arrests in South Africa in 2016, 417 were in and around Kruger. People are most interested in ivory, which can fetch massive prices on the black market, especially in Asian markets. Corruption is also widespread: in September, six men — including two syndicate leaders two police officers and a former police officer — had been arrested for trafficking in rhino horns.
Rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction by poaching, and just a few days ago, Hong Kong airport authorities seized the biggest haul of rhino horn in years, valued at $2.1m (£1.6m). In the US, the Trump administration eliminated legislation that banned bringing ivory into the country, a move which has widely been regarded as a boon to the poaching black market.