Limpopo police have launched a manhunt after five lions were killed on a farm in the Northam area.
Preliminary investigations suggested the lions might have been fed poison-laced chicken by the suspects who gained entry onto the farm by cutting a fence, according to police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo.
"The lions were discovered on Wednesday at about 08:00. Some of them were found decapitated, and some had their paws cut off and teeth removed," Mojapelo said in a statement on Thursday
The provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Neke Ledwaba, condemned the killing and decapitation of the protected species.
A team of investigators was immediately appointed to track down the suspects.
"As the provincial stock theft awareness and anti-poaching campaigns are unfolding, these poachers must [be] stopped in their tracks and brought to book," Ledwaba said.