An illegal hunter was killed while four others barely escaped when they were attacked by the very lions they were targeting.

The incident occurred on Wednesday when the five potential hunters set out with their dogs on an illegal hunt from the Namakgale area near Phalaborwa in South Africa.

Three of the men escaped by climbing a tree while two lions mauled their hunting partner and two of their dogs.  The surviving poachers have not yet been arrested according to authorities.

A provincial spokesperson, Col Ronel Otto, confirmed the incident and said that an inquest docket has been opened.