Two rescue lions have been found decapitated with their paws cut off in a brutal killing at an animal sanctuary.
Jose and Liso – who were among 33 lions rescued from a South American circus in 2016 – were found with their heads and paws cut off at the big cat sanctuary in South Africa.
The owners behind the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in Vaalwater believe their deaths were for not poaching purposes, but instead for ‘witchcraft’, the Telegraph reports.
Minunette Heuser who runs the sanctuary said:
This is not just another poaching incident.
We are going to unite, stronger than ever, and bring to justice the perpetrators who murdered our two beloved boys.
Currently, detectives and forensic teams are investigating the shocking incident which took place on the 5,000 hectare sanctuary and armed guards have been drafted in to keep a watchful eye on surroundings.
HOW 33 RESCUED LIONS WENT HOME TO AFRICA …https://t.co/3ktZRephyb
There is no list of… https://t.co/L8NwyI15qK
— Emoya Big Cats (@EmoyaBigCats) May 3, 2017
The animal refuge was opened in 2012 by Minunette and her daughter Savannah, and covers a vast array of habitats including mountains, forests and rivers.
They have broken my heart. They have broken Savannah’s heart.
But these killers will never break our spirit. We are not going to take this lying down. We are standing together.
The majestic creatures were rescued from the deplorable clutches of circus owners throughout Columbia and Peru along with bears, monkeys and birds living in horrific circumstances.
The huge animals were kept in tiny cages and many had their teeth knocked out and their claws cruelly removed by the despicable owners.
Sadly, it is fairly common for poachers to kill lions in South Africa – poisoning them before their bodies are hacked up and parts sold on for witchcraft purposes.
These animal parts – known as ‘muti’ – are used for traditional healing methods by ‘sangomas’, who are traditional healers based throughout the desolate and rural country.
Their brains and paws are often used for potions and charms and can be found on sale at markets in Johannesburg and Durban.