JOHANNESBURG: Two lions and over 100 vultures in South Africa’s Kruger National Park died after eating the poisoned carcass of an elephant, officials said Wednesday, suggesting a new poaching trend in the heavily-guarded reserve.
“It seems poachers have resorted to wildlife poisoning in the national parks and other protected areas in Southern Africa,” Glenn Phillips, the park’s managing executive, said in a statement.
It was unclear when the poisoning occurred, but the animals’ carcasses were discovered by rangers at the weekend.
Initial investigations showed the elephant was shot in the head, its tusks removed and its carcass laced with poison. Two lions, 110 white-back vultures and two jackals then died after feeding on the poisoned carcass.
The poisoning left authorities puzzled as to the poachers’ ultimate target.
Tusks and horns are smuggled to eastern Asian countries where they are highly prized.
Park spokesman William Mabasa said vultures are also in demand from traditional healers or sangomas in South Africa.