A suspected rhino poacher was trampled to death by an elephant, and then his body was ravaged by lions, according to officials with South African National Parks.

The incident occurred Tuesday at Kruger National Park and the remains of the man were recovered two days later, park officials said. His identity has not been released.

"Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants," a national parks statement said.


The South African Police Service said on Twitter the man was with a group poaching when he was killed. After his death, the group carried his body to a nearby road so passers-by could find it in the morning before vanishing from the park.

A relative of the man was informed about the ordeal by someone in the poaching group and then contacted authorities, according to a news release from police. During a search operation, authorities discovered a human skull and pieces of clothing.

Glenn Phillips, managing executive of the park, warned of the dangers of entering the park illegally.

“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that," Phillips said in a statement. "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.”

The man’s family told authorities they were informed of his death by his fellow alleged poachers, authorities said. The accomplices fled the scene and were later arrested. They are being held in custody.

Rifles and ammunition were discovered after a poacher was reportedly killed by an elephant. (SA Police Service)

It was not immediately clear if they will be charged in connection with the man’s death or poaching. Once the family was aware of his death, they alerted park rangers, who formed a search team.


Between 2005 and 2017, nearly 2,000 elephants and around 6,3000 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa and Kenya, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.