At a nature reserve in southern Spain, last Friday the park manager discovered “the headless body of Sauron,” a dominant male bison, after the herd has been acting strange for a couple of days, Agence France-Presse reports. The bull, who was named after the Dark Lord of Mordor because “he was the biggest and most powerful,” park staff told AFP, weighed close to 1,500 lbs.
Days later, park staff found a second decapitated bison. Both bison were decapitated after their death.
Overhunted European bison went extinct in the wild in the early 20th century, but a conservation program has been building up herds and re-establishing the bisons’ presence at reserves across Europe. This herd of bison arrived at the Valdeserrillas reserve in Valencia, less than a year before this incident.
As AFP reports, the animals had been behaving unusually for a couple of days before Sauron was found dead—they had wandered away from their usual haunts and seemed nervous. When Sauron was found, three other bison were missing, including the second bull found decapitated.
It looked like the herd had been poisoned, and the park staff believes that whoever decapitated the bison was acting not out of malice but greed—the heads could be mounted and sold as trophies.
The police are currently investigating. The two other missing bison were found safe.