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The likely reason three lions were decapitated in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — South African police say poachers have decapitated and chopped the paws off three male lions, apparently for use in traditional medicine.

Police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe said Thursday that the lions were fed poisoned meat at a game lodge in Limpopo province before they were mutilated. Police say the poachers reached the park by cutting through three fences.

Staff found the carcasses Wednesday. Police followed a blood trail to a main road, where the poachers had an escape vehicle waiting.

Traditional healers in the region are prepared to pay top prices for rare ingredients.

Game lodge owner Andre de Lange says this is the second time in six months that poachers have targeted it.

He says poachers have told him the animal parts are commissioned from traditional healers in neighboring Mozambique.

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