By JULIE MCCARTHY / npr.org

Conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts are mourning the case of six lions that have been found dead and dismembered in what is a suspected to be a poisoning in one of Uganda’s most renowned national parks.

Dead vultures provided a clue.

In a statement, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said the big cats were found Friday evening with “most of their bodies parts missing” in Queen Elizabeth National Park, their carcasses surrounded by the lifeless scavengers, “which points to possible poisoning of the lions.”

UWA said it was “saddened” by the grisly case, and it “cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking.”

The discovery is a devastating blow that officials say can negatively impact the country’s tourism sector, which is a top foreign exchange earner for Uganda. Nature tourism pours $1.6 billion into the economy each year.

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