Sixteen lions have been brutally murdered and their faces and claws hacked off to be sold as traditional medicine.
Evil poachers broke into an enclosure in South Africa to kill the big cats, including lionesses who were within days of giving birth.
It is believed they were fed poisoned chicken meat and just one newborn cub survived the slaughter.
The lions were living with Gert Blom at Predators Rock Bush Lodge in Rustenburg, North West Province.
He went down to their enclosure on Friday morning and found his two male lions and six lionesses missing.
He followed drag trails to behind a perimeter wall, where he found them all butchered.
Gert said: ‘They had hacked off 32 paws for the claws and eight of their snouts for their teeth after killing them with poisoned chicken which is a really agonising death for the lions.
‘It is cruelty that is beyond belief and an absolutely terrible sight to behold when you see magnificent predators lying there covered in flies minus their faces and their paws.’
Two of the lionesses were heavily pregnant and a post mortem showed that they died with three unborn cubs inside each.
Another lioness had given birth the day before she was poisoned and two of her cubs perished after drinking her poisoned milk.
Just one survived, who has been named Yoda, and the two-day-old is currently being bottle-fed by Gert.
He added: ‘With the eight dead cubs – six unborn and the two that were almost certainly poisoned from their mother’s milk – that means the poachers effectively killed 16 lions.’
The poachers scaled two 2.4metre-high walls and threw poisoned chicken over an electric fence and into the enclosure.
They then used bolt cutters on a number of gates and dragged the lions’ corpses behind a wall to butcher them.
Gert said he believed there were four poachers as he had found four sets of footprints.
The poisoned lions were all aged between three and four.
The male lions were called Aslan and Hollow and the females Noela, Sia, Sussie, Misty, Lilly, and Frye.
South African Police spokesman Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said they were investigating but there have been no arrests.
Traditional witch doctors or healers us the lion body parts to make potions known as ‘muti’ for local customers who believe it gives them powers to ward off evil spirts or bring luck.
There is also a growing international trade in lion bones as traders in East Asia turn the bones into wine and medicine.
Many of the lions have been killed in the canned hunting trade, where big cats are bred to be shot by hunters.
This content was originally published here.