A suspected poacher who was eaten by lions he was trying to kill, was identified by his severed head.
The only part of 50-year-old David Baloyi’s body which wasn’t eaten, was his head.
It was retrieved to allow his family to identify him with his sister-in-law confirming to officials it was Baloyi.
According to the Metro, Baloyi was hunting at the Umbabat game reserve in the Limpopo Province, South Africa, when he was heard screaming for help as he was attacked last Friday (Feburary 9).
His two fellow poachers fled the scene leaving behind two 456 Winchester rifles – which are often used by big game hunters.
One of these guns was found close to Baloyi’s blood-drenched body.
Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed the identity of the deceased saying:
The incident happened on Friday last week when it was believed the three suspected illegal poachers were attacked by a group of lions in the park. The deceased was killed and eaten by these lions.
The other two managed to escape the attack and fled back to their home country Mozambique and they then reported their ordeal to the family and the sister-in-law was telephoned.
She confirmed she also heard over the radio an unknown person was killed by lions and that anyone who could help with the identification should go to Hoedspruit Police Station.
She went to the police station and was taken to the Maphutha Malatji Hospital Mortuary outside Phalaborwa where she identified the deceased as David Baloyi, aged 50.
There was only the head to identify him by and it was not in good condition and there was a lot of blood but we have now got a positive identification and we are satisfied it is him.
He was from the Masingiri area at Mavudza Village in Mozambique.
The police added it’s not yet confirmed whether Baloyi was a poacher and are asking for more people to come forward with information.
British wildlife photographer Charlier Lyhnam, from Liverpool, lives close to the game reserve and has spent years photographing the resident lion pride.
After the alarm sounded he raced to the gates and arrived at the same time as the paramedics.
He claimed not much of the body was left:
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.
It happened on the border of the Umbabat Game Reserve and it happened after dark and may have been on their reserve?
I cannot say if it was poachers as the matter is under investigation but the Winchester 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. There were no anti-poaching groups in the area at the time and nobody was working there so although speculation it would seem very possible that you have poetic justice here.
Lynham also explained lions are not particularly a danger in daylight but after dark it is ‘another matter:
It’s purely speculation on my part but it would seem they either walked into a pride of lions in the darkness or they were stalked and attacked and a man was taken down and eaten.
The other two it seems ran off and two .456 big game rifles were found and ammunition.
I have been photographing the Ingwelala pride for years and was concerned in case it was them in case they got accused of attacking humans and there were calls to kill them.
But 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 kil’.
Despite the best efforts of environmental conservations and anti-poaching units, big game hunting remains a significant problem in South Africa.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.