Four lions fell dead after getting poisoned chickens so poachers could cut off their legs and jaws for black potions in South Africa.
Male lions Thor and Mumford and white lionesses Isis and Mia died in agony after the heartless murderers threw the deadly meals into their compositions and waited for it to take effect.
But before they could use their sharpened machetes to cut the legs of the lions to steal their claws and cut off their jaws to steal their teeth, they were disturbed.
Dogs at a small farm next to Lionele Village Village Park in Hartbeespoort, north of Johannesburg, went crazy and woke up their owners in the early hours.
Poisoned male lion Thor lies with his legs between a stake in the Chameleon Village Lion Park in Hartbeespoort in South Africa after poachers threw chickens into the fence
Poisoned white lioness Mia died after taking the poisoned chickens in the lion park north of Johannesburg, the lions are the target for their jaws and legs that are used in black potions
Poisoned lioness Isis (left) and lion Thor (right) lie dead on the ground in the Kameleon Village Lion Park in Hartbeespoort in South Africa. Their owner Hennie Po said: "There is no other reason for them to kill these beautiful animals than to maim them and steal their body parts to be sold to the highest bidder for black potions".
The poachers fled when they heard screaming challenges and guards ran in the lion park to check on the lions, but found four of their six predators lying dead in the darkness.
Owner Hennie Pio, 31, said: “I had cared for these lions for 11 years and fed three of them with my wife Isabel, and the hatred I feel for who did this is simply enormous.
& # 39; There is no other reason for them to kill these beautiful animals than to maim them and steal their body parts to be sold to the highest bidder for black potions.
& # 39; What makes me angry is that this is happening more and more and nobody gets caught. I have lost my four best friends, but I am just grateful that they did not have time to cut them into pieces.
& # 39; If I had found them like that, it would have destroyed me without a doubt.
A poisoned chicken carcass that was thrown into the lion's cage by the heartless poachers who waited for the lions to die of terror before they left when nearby dogs started barking at them
Poisoned female Mia and male lion Thor in happier times when they grew up younger and younger in the Chameleon Village Lion Park in Hartbeespoort. Owner Hennie Po said: & # 39; My son WJ is only three years old and he knows and plays with these lions and they are his friends and he keeps asking where they are and I have told him that they are now in heaven & # 39;
& # 39; We have security guards on site and we investigate what happened, but if we are going to rebuild, we need to improve our security to prevent it from happening again.
& # 39; My son WJ is only three years old and he knows and plays with these lions and they are his friends and he keeps asking where they are and I have told him that they are now in heaven.
& # 39; Someone out there knows who's behind this, but it's a wall of silence & # 39 ;, he said.
Hennie and wife Isabel, 26, who run the popular lion park, which also has a snake and reptile center and an African park and traditional shops said they were destroyed.
Poisoned male lion Mumford & # 39; s majestic mane flapping in the wind in the Chameleon Village Lion Park. He was eight years old
The seven-year-old lion Thor in the lion village before his life was barbarically taken by greedy poachers
The four lions that were killed were white lionesses Isis, 11, and Mia, 7, and tawny lions Thor, 7, and Mumford, 8, who left the park with two surviving lions and two tigers.
Hennie said: & # 39; We are an educational center and teach children and schools about lions and tens of thousands of people have enjoyed these animals so much over the years.
& # 39; I have lost 11 years of my life thanks to these bad people who see nothing wrong in feeding this beautiful animal meat filled with poison and then chop it into pieces.
& # 39; The police have been excellent and I just hope they find out who did it & # 39 ;, he said.
Last week, four lions known as the Pride of Rietvlei were poisoned and their legs and jaws cut off by poachers who attacked the Rietvlei nature reserve 40 kilometers away in Pretoria.
Distraught lion park owner Hennie Pio with his poisoned lion Thor, he said: & I had cared for these lions for 11 years and fed three of them with my wife Isabel and the hatred I feel for who did this is simply huge & # 39 ;
The reserve is one of the largest urban game reserves in the world and the excellent security has been breached.
Ranger Bradden Stevens, 33, was distraught when he was summoned to examine the blood-soaked carcasses of the four big cats he had devoted to protection for almost ten years of his life.
In April last year, Gert Claasen, 48, had killed 3 lions for body parts and 3 more dead and stolen to be later slaughtered from his reserve in Petrus Steyn in the Free State province.
In May of last year at Jugomara Predator Park in Limpopo province, owner Justin Fernandes, 32, had chopped up three lions and a rare white tiger for their body parts.
And in July last year, Christa Sayman, 55, lost six lions to poachers who cut off the heads and paws of four full-grown lions for black potions and killed two other lion cubs.
A complete lion skeleton can be purchased in South Africa for £ 1000, but in Vietnam it is worth £ 50,000 and the individual claws and teeth of a lion are highly appreciated and receive top prizes.
Police vans in the Chameleon Village Lion Park in Hartbeespoort, South Africa, where four lions were killed
A sign for the Chamelion Village Lion Park, about an hour and 20 minutes drive from Johannesburg
A traditional healer from Limpopo who did not want to give her name said: “The body parts of the lion are used to make strong muti, a potion made by healers to cast spells.
& # 39; These can be used to protect or cure a person against illness or to make them strong or virile or even used to chase away enemies or prevent them from being attacked & she said.
Dr. Kelly Marnewick of the Endangered Wildlife Trust closely follows the mutilated and poached lions on private farms and shrines throughout South Africa.
She said: "It is mainly the claws, heads and teeth of the poachers that the poachers are after, and in 2017 22 captive lions were killed and this is something that we are keeping a close eye on."
It is feared that lion bones are now being sought to replace the much rarer tiger bones demanded in Southeast Asia and smuggled for use in traditional medicines.
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