The remains were found at the weekend in the bush at a private game park near Hoedspruit in the northern province of Limpopo, where animals have been poached in increasing numbers over recent years. Officials found a rifle and ammunition next to the body, according to the local Eyewitness News website.
“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains,” said Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe.
Police are still trying to establish the victim’s identity. “We are still trying all other means, including the Home Affairs Department, to get his history, which may lead us to his residential place,” Ngoepe told the Sowetan newspaper. “The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is among the remains that were found at the scene.”
Ngoepe added, “We are now waiting for a person from the family but we are also utilizing our investigative resources to see if we can successfully identify the deceased.” The Department of Home Affairs has also been asked in to assist in identifying the man.
Earlier, it was thought the dead man was a farmworker whose tractor had broken down. However, Ngoepe said that the farmworker was found alive. He managed to walk to safety after his tractor had broken down.
Lion poaching has been increasing in recent years. Several lions were found poisoned near a farm in the same province last year with their heads and paws sawed off. Lion body parts are used in traditional medicine.
Several months ago, a similar incident happened to a poacher who was hunting a rhino for its horn in nearby Namibia. The poacher was charged and severely injured by the rhino.