Eight lions at a North West bush lodge have been killed during an alleged poisoning, police have confirmed.
The carcasses were found on Friday morning at the Predators Rock Bush Lodge, near Rustenburg.
Their paws and snouts were cut and removed, said police spokesperson Sabata Mokgwabone.
“A case of illegal hunting has been opened … at Koster Police Station after eight lions were killed at one of the lodges in the vicinity of Swartruggens. It is alleged that the lions were found dead in the morning,” said Mokgwabone.
Gert Blom, owner of Predators Rock Bush Lodge, said it appeared the poison was hidden in chicken carcasses.
He added that each lion had been named and that they were “quite tame”.
Two male lions and six females, three of which were pregnant, were poisoned.
One of the lionesses had three newborn cubs, two of which also died.
The property is registered as a zoo and, working closely with nature conservation organisations, works to educate the public on wildlife, Blom explained.
Following a poisoning attempt on two white male lions last year, the zoo closed to the public for the safety of the animals, he said.
Predators Rock is also a CITES breeding facility, that aims to improve the numbers of endangered animals and often provides animals to other zoos, Blom added.
Mokgwabone said: “No one has been arrested and investigation into the matter continues.”