LION HAS FACE AND PAWS CUT OFF AS FOUR OTHER BIG CATS DIE OF POSONING AT SOUTH AFRICAN WILDLIFE RESERVE

South African wildlife reserve is offering a reward of 110,000 rand (£5,707) for information after five of its lions were killed, including one which was also badly mutilated. 

Poachers broke into the Akwaaba Predator Park, in the city of Rustenburg, on Monday and poisoned the five animals, including one male lion named Mufasa.  

"We think they were disturbed as they mutilated him," Bronwyn Moss, the park's manager, said. 

"They must have seen the security coming, with their torches." 

Security guards on duty at the park contacted the farm manager at around 12:30am on Monday and told him something was wrong with the lions. 

The manager arrived to find one animal dead and cradled another in his arms as it passed away.

Poachers had also attacked Mufasa and had chopped off his face and paws. 

It is unclear whether the animal was still alive when the poachers mutilated him. 

"I hope, with all my heart, that he was not alive," said Ms Moss. 

"There is a lot of speculation as to why someone would do this. It could be [to sell parts] to trophy hunters or it could be for traditional medicine," she added. 

A bag containing four lion paws was found in an area close to the park. 

Police have opened an investigation into the incident and are running DNA tests on the paws to see if they belong to Musafa or to an animal from another farm. 

Staff are offering a reward to any person who can provide "information that leads to the the successful conviction of these murderers" 

"Please help us find these monsters and bring them to justice," they wrote in a statement on the organisation's Facebook page

Ms Moss said that staff at the park were trying to raise awareness about the "incredible increase" in lion poaching in South Africa. 

She added that the organisation had received support from people across the world following the incident. 

"We have heard from [people in] India, we have heard from [people in] Egypt," she said. 

"The world has come behind us after this."