Game ranger Anton Mzimba, who fought poaching efforts over the years to keep wildlife safe, was shot and killed outside his home on Tuesday this week. Details around the shooting are unclear at this point and police have yet to confirm what happened.
42-year-old Mzimba was the head of ranger services at Timbavati Game Private Nature Reserve, where he had worked for 25 years. The Nature Reserve said it was cooperating with authorities, but “the reserve needs to remain confidential about the details at this stage.”
As reported by News 24, Timbavati said Mzimba had dedicated his life to “the protection of a species which has no voice of its own, and uplifting and inspiring the people who he knew needed his support”.
Mzimba’s conservation career began in 1997 as an erosion fieldworker. He became one of the youngest field rangers at Timbavati in 1998, after passing his basic field ranger training. In 2003, he was promoted to the position of full corporal instructor, in which he was tasked with the management of the training programme.
According to Timbavati, it was Mzimba’s passion and leadership skills that propelled him to the position of head game ranger at the reserve. He was also a technical advisor for the Global Conservation Corps.
“The impact that this one man has had, not only within the wildlife space, but also touching the lives of, and inspiring young children, has been simply enormous.” In addition to excelling at this job, he also encouraged young people to pursue careers in conservation and to respect wildlife.
Young children were not the only lives touched and inspired by the wildlife warrior. The Daily Mail reported that a “saddened” Prince William shared a heartfelt tribute to Mzimba on Twitter and calls for his killers to “swiftly be brought to justice.”
I’m deeply saddened to learn of the killing of Anton Mzimba who I spoke to in November. Committed and brave, rangers like Anton are central to the conservation of Africa’s fantastic wildlife. Those responsible must swiftly be brought to justice. My thoughts are with his family. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 27, 2022
Prince William first encountered Mzimba in November when the royal, who is a keen conservationist and has long campaigned against illegal wildlife smuggling, paid a visit to Microsoft HQ in Reading to learn about a new device to combat ivory smugglers. They spoke at length about the difficulties rangers face in combatting poaching.
“Anton’s enduring belief, something he shared with everyone he met, was that a field ranger should be seen as a hero, someone to aspire to become,” said Timbavati.
“Anton lived his beliefs, never wavered from his convictions, and, above all, remained a brave and honest man.”
Picture: @macgregor63 / Twitter