Rhino poacher crushed by elephant, then eaten by lions in South Africa

A poacher hunting rhinos in a South African game reserve has suffered a grisly fate after he was trampled to death by an elephant then eaten by a pride of lions.

The man was hunting with group of four others in the Kruger National Park (KNP) this week when he was attacked.

His accomplices told authorities how an enraged elephant surprised them as they were stalking an endangered rhino.

As their helpless friend was being stamped to death, they used the opportunity to flee to safety and told the family of the victim of what had happened.

Kruger Park rangers set off to find the man, whose body was in an area of the park called Crocodile Bridge.

But there wasn't anything they could do by the time they arrived; KNP rangers saying only his skull and trousers were left. The rest had been eaten by a hungry pride of lions roaming in the reserve, they suspect.

"Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that," says Glenn Phillips, who manages the national preserve.

"It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains."

The four surviving poachers have been arrested and will appear in court.

There are around 20,000 rhinos left in the wild in Africa. Illegal poaching has increased markedly since 2007 - mainly because their horns are deemed so valuable, and can be sold for upwards of $380,000.