Only a skull and a pair of pants were left after a suspected rhino poacher was attacked and killed by an elephant and then devoured by lions, according to the South African National Parks agency.
A group of men entered the Kruger National Park in South Africa on Monday to go poaching when an elephant suddenly attacked and killed one of them, officials said.
The men carried the poacher's remains to the road so that passersby could find it in the morning, and then left the park, according to police. They called a relative of the deceased man to tell them about the incident and alerted police.
Kruger National Park field rangers discovered the man's remains had been eaten by lions in the Crocodile Bridge section of the park on Thursday.
Three men were arrested and police seized two .375 hunting rifles and ammunition that were used during the poaching operation.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that," Glenn Phillips, managing executive of Kruger National Park, 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."
Poachers and traffickers target rhino horns to sell internationally, where it is used in Chinese medicine as an aphrodisiac and status symbol.
Kruger National Park has traditionally borne the brunt of rhino poaching, according to Edna Molewa, South Africa's minister of environmental affairs. The park has seen an increase in arrests of alleged poachers. In 2017, the park arrested 446 suspected poachers and traffickers, an increase from 2016, when a total of 417 were arrested. A total of 504 rhinos were poached in the park in 2017.
The suspects appeared Friday at the Komatipoort magistrates' court facing charges of possession of firearms and ammunition without a license, conspiracy to poach, as well as trespassing, according to the South African Police Service.
The court remanded them in custody. They are due to appear in court again on Friday, pending a formal bail application.