JOHANNESBURG — A group of poachers were bested by a pride of lions after they broke into a South African game reserve in a bid to stalk and slaughter a herd of rhinos.

At least three men made their way onto the Sibuya Game Reserve in the early hours of the morning on Monday. They were “armed with, amongst other things, a high powered rifle with a silencer, an ax, wire cutters and had food supplies for a number of days,” according to a press release.

Reserve owner Nick Fox said they had “all the hallmarks of a gang intent on killing rhino and removing their horns.”

An anti-poaching dog alerted its handler around 4:30 a.m. Monday, but the handler brushed off concerns. At the same time he’d heard a commotion coming from the lions so he suspected that’s what prompted a reaction from the dog.

“However, it now appears likely that the dog had been alerted by something else out of the ordinary coming from the lions,” Fox said.

Field guides on a game drive Tuesday evening reported that they’d discovered human remains as well as other items “in the immediate vicinity of the lions.”

When he arrived on the scene, Fox said they discovered the high powered rifle, gloves, wire cutters and the remains of a backpack with food and water.

“Clearly the poachers had walked into a pride of six lions and some, if not all had been killed,” Fox said.

Investigators were unable to examine the scene for evidence Tuesday night and were forced to wait for daylight. Fox said he’s arranged for the reserve vet to “dart the entire pride of lions” so police, forensics teams and the anti-poaching unit may search the area for clues.

It’s unclear how many people were killed on the reserve at this time.

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