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Couple found with severed lion’s head in backpack as they walked into a garage

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A couple searched by police after acting suspiciously were found with a lion’s head in their backpack.

The grim find was made after cops in South Africa were tipped off that the pair were trying to find a witch doctor who would pay them £17,500 for the severed head in order to make black magic potions.

The Sun reports that an elite police unit used a middleman to arrange a meeting between the suspicious couple and a traditional healer.

When Joseph Modime, 59, and Emily Mashaba, 54, arrived at a garage in Zeerust, North West Province, they handed over the gruesome bag containing the severed head.

They were arrested for breach of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act 2004.

It’s not known whether poachers killed the lion in the wild or whether it came from an illegal farm that breeds the big cats to sell their bones.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Henry Mamothame said the suspects were travelling from Tembisa in Johannesburg seeking to find a traditional healer.

He said: “They were intercepted by police who had arranged for a traditional healer to be at a petrol station where a lion’s head was found in a backpack wrapped in refuse bags.

“Both were arrested and will appear in court at a later date. We do not yet know how the dead lion’s head came to be in their possession but that is part of the investigation.”

It’s an ongoing problem in South Africa, with sick opportunists looking to benefit from demand for the body parts of lions.

Four were killed at a nature reserve near Pretoria in 2019 and their heads and paws were hacked off to be used for black magic potions.

The following year, 16 lions – including two pregnant females newborn cubs – were killed at Predators Rock Bush Lodge, Rustenburg, before having their heads and paws amputated.

They were massacred as part of a smuggling operation to the Far East.

  • Crime
  • Lions
  • Animals

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