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A half-ton bison was poisoned and decapitated so that his head could be used "as a trophy".
Sauron, named after the Lord of The Rings character, was found on Friday in the 800-acre Valdeserillas reserve in Spain's eastern region of Valencia.

Sauron's head was missing, with reserve spokesman Rodolfo Navarro saying the attackers wanted it for a trophy. Mr Navarro said the animal had been "the biggest and most powerful" of the herd and had become a "sort of symbol of the reserve".

El Pais reported that investigators had not found any bullets or cartridges at the scene. They quoted the Civil Guard's nature protection group - Seprona - as saying there had been at least two people involved and they used an axe. Mr Navarro agreed, adding: "It must have been a gang because one person couldn't commit this kind of brutality on their own."

Three other bison are missing, presumed dead, and five others are ill with diarrhoea but responding well to treatment. Mr Navarro said the 12 bison were brought to Spain from the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK after years of planning. "It was like a murder," he told The Guardian of the attack.

"It's just senseless and it has really damaged not only our image and Valencia's, but also Spain's." The European bison were hunted to extinction in the wild, with the last of the animals shot in Poland in the 1920s, but they have been reintroduced across Europe from captivity. There are now about 5,500 around the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Source: Sky News