- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Five lions were killed at Akwaaba Predator Park near Rustenburg, South Africa
- Poachers broke in to the park and poisoned lions with a yet-to-be-identified drug
- Cut off face and front paws of a lion named after The Lion King’s Mufasa
- The body parts of the lions are likely to be sold for black magic rituals
Poachers poisoned five lions and brutally mutilated one at a South African predator park this week.
The horrific incident occurred on Monday night at Akwaaba Predator Park near Rustenburg, some 80 miles west of Johannesburg in the northeast of the country.
The poachers broke into the park and had begun to mutilate a male lion called Mufasa, named after the famous Disney character, when they they were disturbed by staff and fled the scene.
Images show the remains of Mufasa, lying in his own blood, and the other four lions which the poachers had not yet mutilated. It is believed Mufasa’s body parts will be used for black magic rituals or sold to a trophy collector.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ said park manager, Bronwyn Moss. ‘All the lions were hand reared from when they were cubs so it’s like losing five children.
‘They were close to our hearts. My only hope is that the lions were already dead by the time the poachers started chopping off parts.’
After breaching the park’s security, poachers poisoned the lions with a fast acting drug that is still being identified.
They then hacked off the front paws of one and part of its face before being disturbed and fleeing.
The carnage was discovered at around 11.30pm by patrolling security guards who contacted the farm manager. ‘
When he arrived he discovered the dead lions,’ explained Ms Moss. ‘He saw a lot of blood in the one enclosure and found that the one lion’s two front feet and face were chopped off.
‘We suspect that the lions were all poisoned at the same time and that the poachers were disturbed by the security guards before they could hack parts off the other lions,’ said Ms Moss..
Police and wildlife authorities were alerted and an investigation is being conducted.
Akwaaba is also offering a reward of 100,000 rand (about £5,550) to any person with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poachers.
‘We are devastated that this could happen on our doorstep and that our babies were killed for nothing. The poachers murdered five and only got parts from one. What an absolute waste of life.’
Ms Moss said that they could only speculate at this stage about motive.
‘The poachers could have been after the parts to make traditional medicine or they could have been harvesting them for a trophy collector. We hope to get to the bottom of it soon.’
Akwaaba is a 72-hectare game farm which is refuge to a variety of wild animals including big cats that have been abandoned or abused.
Because many of the animals have been hand reared from a very young age visiting tourists are allowed to pet them.
This comes three months after a similar attack at a park just miles away, where another six lions were killed and mutilated for black magic parts.
Two white lions and four brown lions were poisoned and mutilated at the Mystic Monkeys & Feathers Wildlife Park, just north of Pretoria, in July.
Poachers hacked the heads and paws off four fully grown lions and also killed two cubs.