Police are investigating if a man killed and eaten by a pride of lions at a private game reserve in South Africa was a poacher who had been hunting big cats.
His screams for help raised the alarm but the lions quickly killed the man and devoured most of his body before being chased off.
The head was left untouched and is the only means available to police of identifying the man who was carrying no documents.
It comes just months after poacher Luteni Muhararukua was charged and killed by a rhino he was hunting for its horn in nearby Namibia.
At first police thought the dead man was a tractor driver who worked at the game reserve but when he turned up alive realised it may be a poacher.
A hunting rifle was found close to what was left of the blood drenched body which police believe belonged to the victim of the lions.
Police in Limpopo have called in the Department of Home Affairs to help them to try to find out who the dead man is.
Police Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said: “The person who who we first thought it was believed to be an employee who was driving a tractor.
“It was thought his tractor broke down and the lions got him as he walked back to the compound but he was found to be alive.
“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”.
Mr Ngoepe confirmed police were investigating the possibility the deceased might have been a poacher after a hunting rifle was found near the scene.
Lions kill up to 250 people a year in Africa and a male weighs 190kg and a female 130kg and they can ran at over 80kph and there are less than 20000 left in the wild in Africa.
Their bones are worth a small fortune in the Far East with a skeleton fetching up to £7000 and the skin £3000 teeth can fetch £500 each.
Their bones have become highly prized in the the Far East as tiger bones are becoming rarer and rear with their threat of extinction.
The lions attacked the suspected poacher at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in Hoedspruit outside Phalaborwa.
The owner of the reserve, who identified himself as Josh, said he was told not to speak to the media because the police investigation was still under way.
A local worker, who works at a nearby nature reserve, described the area as lion territory and added:”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”.