A poacher who broke into a national park in South Africa has died after being trampled to death by elephants. The poacher's body was unable to be rescued and was eaten by lions.
The incident, which involved four other men who are now thought to be in police custody, occurred in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Police picked the four fleeing men up outside the nature reserve and they told of how an angry elephant had stamped one of their number to death after becoming startled. At the time of the incident they were trying to hunt an endangered rhino.
Rhino in Kruger National Park. Credit: PA
After learning of the elephant attack, rangers from the park set off immediately to try to find the man. His body was in an area of the park called Crocodile Bridge.
They also took a small plane to attempt to find his body, but their attempts were unsuccessful.
The next morning, the search resumed for the man's body. Rangers assured the distraught family of the poacher that they would do their utmost to recover his body.
Lion in Kruger National Park. Credit: PA
However, after several days they found his body, but realised that it had been eaten by a pride of lions whilst lying in the reserve.
They successfully managed to recover some of his clothes and his dismembered head.
The Kruger National Park managing executive, Glenn Phillips, said: "Entering the Kruger illegally and on foot is not wise as it holds very many dangers and this incident is clear evidence of that.
"It was very sad to see the daughters of the deceased man mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains."
An elephant in South Africa. Credit: PA
Phillips also extended his condolences to the family of the deceased man and offered thanks to the search party for their efforts to recover the man and offer "some closure" to the family.
It's not the first incident of this type in South Africa in recent times. Last year at least three poachers were eaten by lions at the Sibuya Game Reserve in the country's Eastern Province.
The park's owner confirmed that only a number of body parts, a single shoe, their rifles and an axe were recovered.
He said: "We found enough body parts which suggest to us the lions ate at least three of them but it is thick bush out there and there could be more bodies out there.
"They came heavily armed with enough food to last days so we suspect they were after all our rhinos but the lions are our watchers and guardians and they became the meal.
"We are of course saddened at any loss of life but these men came to kill our animals and this sends out a powerful message to poachers that you will not always be the winner."
Featured Image Credit: PA