male lion
An alert lion. By Norman Rawn via Flickr.

These days, it’s rare to see the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve. So the news that a pride of lions at Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa recently killed and ate as many as three poachers was cause for celebration.

The poachers—there’s no way to verify how many—had slipped into the park at night and were almost certainly there to poach rhino horn, which experts say can be worth more than gold. The men were armed with a high-powered rifle with a silencer and carried an axe, wire cutters, and food enough to last several days. The lions at Sibuya are quite accustomed to vehicles bearing visitors twice daily to see them. But anything that walks—on two legs or four—they view differently, as in “dinner.” It appears that a rifle is no match for a coordinated group of creatures that stalk mammals for a living by night.

At about 4:30 that morning, the anti-poaching dogs kept nearby by rangers alerted at least one handler that something unusual was going on. At about the same time, the handler heard a “loud commotion” among the lions. Such sounds are not unusual among lions at night. But the dogs’ reaction was, and it signaled that something unusual was up.

Reserve owner Nick Fox told the Washington Post that they went to investigate and eventually found a skull and “half of a pelvis” but not much more. Another news account reports that three sets of shoes were found. Any way you slice it, it looks like three guys who deserved to have a bad day actually did. Fox believes it’s possible that one person escaped. I imagine that guy will have some interesting nights trying to sleep for a while.

The Sibuya Game Reserve’s Facebook page already has 1,176 comments on the story, seemingly unanimous in their reaction.

“This cheered me up no end,” wrote Cythare Cooper.