Suspected poacher killed by elephant and then eaten by lions

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Officials at Kruger National Park in South Africa said a suspected rhino poacher was killed by an elephant and his remains eaten by lions.

Park rangers quickly began a search for the man both on foot and by air, but initially failed to find anything due to failing light.

Evidence found at the scene included a human skull and a pair of trousers.

The South African Police Service says they first received information about the poaching incident at Kruger National Park on April 1. Evidence indicates that lions devoured the body, "leaving only a human skull and a pair of trousers", according to officials.

In the park statement, Phillips commended the search party for helping the family find closure.

Kruger National Park managing executive Glenn Phillips offered his condolences to the relatives of the deceased.

Following the incident, the four suspected poachers who returned safely from the Kruger National Park are under police custody and will be tried in the court on the allegations leveled on them.

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The suspected poacher, along with four accomplices, entered KNP on the evening of April 2 to poach rhinoceros.

The Kruger National Park is South Africa's biggest reserve in the country and covers over 12,000 square miles and is home to the Big Five of rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. In this case, the lions found the man's body before his friends and family could, and there was very little left of him.

Park officials recovered the remains of the man, whose identity has not been released.

Elephants in Kruger National Park became startled at the group's presence.

The deceased's accomplices have also been arrested and arraigned before court on charges of illegally possessing firearms and conspiracy to poach and trespassing, according to TimesLIVE.

Three individuals who joined the illegal hunt were arrested Wednesday by the South African Police Service, and officers continue to investigate what happened.

Poachers continue to threaten South Africa's rhino population, though significant gains have been made in recent years. While the number of rhinos poached in the country has declined since 2014, the demand for the animals' horns remains strong -- a little more than 700 rhinos were hunted past year.

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