Poachers Just Broke Into A Sanctuary To Kill Two Rescued Lions

By: /The Dodo The Lions had been rescued from abuse — and were best friends.

On Sunday night, the unthinkable happened at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, a refuge for animals rescued from abusive situations. Attackers broke into the sanctuary and killed two lions, José and Liso.

Then they hacked off the lions’ heads, legs, and skins, according to South African news outlet Netwerk 21, although the dead lions weren’t discovered until Monday morning.

José and Liso napping in their enclosureFacebook/Animal Defenders International

While it’s not clear why José and Liso were killed, the poachers probably wanted to use their body parts as trophies, or sell their bones for traditional medicine. It’s unclear if the poachers poisoned the animals first, or if they were still alive while they were being mutilated.

“With heavy hearts, we graciously and respectfully ask for your patience and sensitivity at this time as we recover from and get to the bottom of the traumatic attack at the sanctuary this week,” Emoya wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. Emoya also said it is working with investigators, and that more details would be released at a later date.

José and Liso in their enclosure at the sanctuaryFacebook/Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary

The sanctuary currently has “24-hour security and armed patrols” to protect the surviving animals, Emoya added.

While a single attack like this is heartbreaking enough, it’s sadly becoming something of a pattern as poachers grow bolder. This past February, poachers stormed into a South African rhino orphanage and killed two baby rhinos for their horns — the orphanage ultimately had to close out of fear of an another attack. In March, poachers even broke into a French zoo to kill a tame, captive rhino for his horns.

With African wildlife increasingly threatened by rampant poaching and habitat loss, sanctuaries play an important role in safeguarding displaced, orphaned and injured wildlife. So poaching attacks on wildlife sanctuaries are particularly disconcerting.

José and Liso spending time togetherFacebook/Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary

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