Greed and money can seduce people and make them do unthinkably violent and vile things to other living beings. But those who do wrong eventually find out that karma always catches up with them.
In early July, a group of 3 men seduced by money broke into a popular African game reserve with illegal and immoral intentions. Thankfully, however, the men experienced instant karma after they ran into the king of the jungle…
In the morning of Monday, July 2, 2018, a staff member with the anti-poaching unit at the Sibuya Game Reserve, a reserve near Kenton-on-Sea in Eastern Province, South Africa, was on patrol to guard the reserve’s rhinoceroses against any poachers or threats.
A Poacher Detector
The guard was accompanied by a special breed of Belgian sheepdog, which worked on the reserve as an anti-poaching dog and had been trained to listen for poachers trespassing on the reserve and warn their handlers if anything was amiss…
Most of the night had been quiet and uneventful, however, at about 4:30 in the morning, the Belgian sheepdog started barking at its handler, which it only did to let the handler know that something was wrong in the reserve.
A Commotion Among The Lions
The handler started to inspect the warning barks, but then the guard heard what sounded like a ‘loud commotion coming from the lions.’ It sounded as though the lions were hunting or fighting, but that had nothing to do with rhinoceroses…
A False Alarm
Not only did it seem unrelated to the rhinos, but lions often make a bit of noise on the reserve in the early hours of the morning. The handler assumed the warning barks were just a false alarm and went back to his regular duties.
Safe And Sound
The next morning, all the rhinos were accounted for and there was no sign that any of them had been attacked, which seemed to confirm the guard’s assumption that the early morning warning was just a false alarm. Later that day, however, the staff at the reserve discovered what really made the anti-poaching dog react…
A Disturbing Discovery
On Monday evening, rangers patrolling the Sibuya Game Reserve, the most popular in the Eastern Cape, came across something that stopped them in thier tracks. “One of our guys found what he thought was a soccer ball,” Nick Fox, the owner of the private game reserve, said.
A Human Skull
Upon closer inspection, the ranger realized what had really happened. “It turned out to be a skull,” Nick explained. The ranger immediately reported what he found and the location within the 30-square-mile to his colleagues and called the police…
Too Dangerous To Investigate
Unfortunately, by the time the ranger spotted the skull, it was already getting dark and it would be too dangerous to start investigating that night. The police agreed that they would begin searching the ground for more evidence and remains the following morning.
The Investigation Begins
“There was nothing we could do before that,” Nick said. “It was getting dark — too unsafe to be on foot. Once lions have taken down a human, you cannot be on the ground with them.” The next morning, the staff tranquilized the lions and let investigators get to work…
Detectives found a few more remains and poaching gear, including a high-powered rifle, a silencer, wire cutters, and an ax, scattered throughout the area where the human skull was found. According to the police, they also found 3 sets of shoes and gloves.
They couldn’t be sure how many people were involved in the incident, but investigators estimated that 3 men had been killed based on the shoes, gloves, and equipment that they recovered from the densely packed thorn bushes…
The Investigation Continues
After finding the remains, a helicopter searched the park for any survivors but none were found. The few remains recovered have been sent for forensic testing and the rifle has been sent to a ballistic lab “to establish if it has been used in any other poaching or crimes,” said police spokeswoman Capt. Mali Govender.
The Sickening Demand
According to Nick, the men were carrying tools commonly used by poachers to kill and saw the horns off rhinos. Today, rhino horns, worth about $9,000 per pound, are in high demand in Asia as they are considered a status symbol as well as an ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine…
“We’re pretty convinced they are rhino poachers,” Nick explained. It is believed that the 3 men broke into the reserve planning to set up camp and track the rhinos before killing and dehorning them. However, the group of poachers encountered a pride of lions and were eaten alive before they had a chance to kill any rhinos.
A Clear Message
“They came heavily armed with hunting rifles and axes which we have recovered and enough food to last them for several days so we suspect they were after all of our rhinos here. But the lions are our watchers and guardians and they picked the wrong pride and became a meal,” Nick said. “Whilst we are saddened at any loss of life, the poachers came here to kill our animals and this sends out a very clear message to any other poachers that you will not always be the winner…”
South Africa is home to more than 80 percent of the world’s 30,000 rhinos, and poaching has skyrocketed in the past few years as the demand for their horns has increased. In previous years, poachers would mostly target Kruger National Park, Africa’s biggest wildlife conservancy. But as anti-poaching efforts have increased, poachers have begun targeting smaller parks that seem like easier targets.
Putting Up A Fight
In 2016, 2 rhinos from the Sibuya Game Reserve were killed by poachers for their horns and another died after being brutally mutilated. “We’re doing our very best to protect them,” said Nick, who is devastated when any of his rhinos, some of which are hand-reared at the reserve, are targeted. “There are more poachers now, and they are very well equipped,” Nick added…
A Private Army
“You literally need to have your own private army now,” said Nick, who spends more than $73,000 every year on guard teams, trained dogs, and homing beacons to protect the rhinos. “This time, there’s a huge sense of relief… We’re thankful they’re all safe at the moment.”
Proud Of The Pride
“I just thank my lions. They saved our rhinos from another onslaught,” said Nick, who added that none of the lions will be put down because of the attack. “They won’t be killed. The status quo will continue,” he said. “Over the last few days game guides and anti-poaching staff have continued to drive game viewing vehicles in the vicinity of this pride to check for any behavioral differences and they have confirmed that to date there have been none.”