Six dead lions were found in a renowned African wildlife park and officials say there are clues it was foul play. Per NPR, the Uganda Wildlife Authority said in a statement that the animals were discovered Friday in Queen Elizabeth National Park with their body parts missing and dead scavengers scattered around them. The presence of those scavengers, including vultures, "points to possible poisoning of the lions," the statement said. So who's the culprit? Officials don't know for sure but say they have a hunch. "Given that some of the body parts of the lions are missing, we cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking," the wildlife authority's communications manager Bashir Hangi said in the statement.
As the statement notes, the development is a blow to both the ecosystem and the country's economy. Foreign tourism dollars account for 10 percent of the country's GDP, or roughly $1.6 billion USD. That money supports local economies in the vicinity of the nearly 500,000 acre park, which is also home to hippos, chimps, elephants, and other fauna. Per BBC, this is not the first time lions at Queen Elizabeth, which are known for their unique ability to climb trees, have been found killed. Eleven lions, eight of them cubs, were found dead at the park of suspected poisoning in 2018. Authorities say an investigation on the recent case is ongoing. (Read more lion stories.)