Authorities in South Africa say an attempt to poach rhinoceros in a national park ended with an elephant killing one man and lions eating his remains.

Three other men have been arrested over the alleged poaching attempt at Kruger National Park, which came to light earlier this week.

According to a spokesperson for the park, the man’s family contacted park rangers Wednesday, claiming they had been told by the other men that their relative had been killed. The alleged poachers apparently said they had left the man’s body at a roadway, where they hoped somebody would spot it.

As South African Police Service officers launched a search for the man, other officers arrested his companions.

The man’s remains were found on Thursday.

“Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants,” the park spokesperson said.

Glenn Phillips, the park’s managing executive, said in a statement that it is “not wise” for people to enter the park illegally and on foot. Two park rangers were hospitalized a few days earlier when an elephant attacked them while they were on a routine patrol.

“[The park] holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” he said.

“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.”

Police are still investigating the circumstances around the man’s death. The three other men, whose ages range from 26 to 35, remain in custody awaiting a bail hearing while facing charges of trespassing, conspiracy to poach and possession of firearms and ammunition without a licence.

Two hunting rifles and ammunition were seized as part of the investigation, police said.

Rhino poaching is considered a serious problem in South Africa, which is home to about 80 per cent of the world’s rhinoceros population. Three men who were convicted of dozens of counts of poaching this week received sentences that will see them each spend 25 years in prison.