The suspected big cat poacher was was savaged and eaten alive by a pride of lions he was trying to hunt has been positively identified.
David Baloyi, 50, was apparently identified by his sister-in-law after his remains were discovered on the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in Hoespruit, near Phalaborwa in South Africa.
The suspected hunter was identified by only his head, after the lions ate the rest of his body.
Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoep said that three men were involved in the incident.
He said: “The incident happened last Friday night, when it is believed that three suspected illegal poachers were attacked by a group of lions and during that incident; the deceased was killed and eaten by these lions.”
Ngoep added that the two other men escaped and fled to Mozambique, where they told the family of the dead man what had happened.
The Umbabat Private Nature Reserve said that two sets of human tracks were found close to the man’s head.
It says the tracks indicated the companions were “fleeing the scene at a very rapid pace”.
Reserve managers said a heavy calibre firearm and ammunition were recovered after the killing on Friday.
He added: “The sister-in-law alleged that she received a call from her family members in Mozambique who gave her the report from the two men that the deceased was killed by lions in South Africa and she must go and check with the police.
“The police are still investigating the possibility that the deceased might have been a poacher after a hunting rifle and ammunition were found in the vicinity of the scene.”
The victim was heard screaming for help as he was bitten by the lions, according to local workers.
One said: “The head was still there but the lions had eaten most of the rest.
“A scream was heard and the lions were scattered by the sound of gunshots but it was too late to do anything for him. He was eaten.”
Poachers are known to target lions as the species are highly prized in areas such as the Far East, where they are used in traditional medicines.
Parts of the animal, such as bones, skin and fur can fetch thousands from buyers.