A poacher is reported to have been killed and eaten by a pride of lions in South Africa.
Staff at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve found only the head of the man, the rest of his body having been devoured by the lions before they were chased off.
He had been heard screaming for help overnight, and he was originally thought to be a tractor driver employed by the game reserve.
However, when he turned up, officers realised he was a poacher as a hunting rifle was discovered close to his remains.
A worker from another nature reserve nearby 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.”
Police confirmed they are looking into the possibility the man was a poacher and they are trying to identify him.
Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said: “The process of identifying this body has already commenced and it might be made easier as his head was amongst the remains found at the scene.”
A British wildlife photographer, Charlie Lynham, who regularly photographs the lions that live in the reserve said it was not certain that the suspected poacher had been killed inside Ingwelala or in another reserve bordering it.
Mr Lynham told the Daily Mail: “It turns out it was not the resident pride that lives here responsible as they were on a buffalo kill at the time of the incident but a pride perhaps come over from the Kruger (National Park).
“It happened on the border of the Umbabat Game Reserve after dark and may have been on their reserve.”
He explained that he was worried it may have been lions in Ingwelala, which could have sparked calls to kill them after attacking humans.
He said: “It was not our pride and was probably one from the Kruger that come over the border.
“If you go out walking in the bush in the dark then I am afraid you are fair game in the wild and there is no way that anyone can attribute any blame to those lions for this kill.”
He added: “It would seem very possible that you have poetic justice here”.
“Two .456 big game rifles and ammunition were found at the scene and that is the weapon of choice used by those hunting big game - especially elephant and rhino in the bush.
“I cannot say if it was poachers as the matter is under investigation but that is their weapon of choice and they usually work in groups of three and work under cover of darkness. Two sets of footprints have been found running away and obviously the dead and eaten man.”