The Timbavati reserve’s head of ranger services, Anton Mzimba, was shot and killed in front of his Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, house. Helping Rhinos said his killing on Tuesday “follows recent death threats and highlights the daily threat facing rangers”. Helping Rhinos is the UK and USA-based charity working to save the rhino from extinction through strategic partnerships and vital work in the field.
Mzimba, who was dubbed a rhino warrior for his battle against poachers, has worked in the reserve for 25 years. Timbavati said while it is “cooperating with the authorities in the investigations that are underway, the reserve needs to remain confidential about the details of these at this stage”.
In a personal statement, Prince William said on Wednesday: "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."https://t.co/fggAv1LHa2
— News24 (@News24) July 28, 2022
Prince William first met Mzimba in November when he visited Microsoft’s headquarters in Reading to learn about a new tool to fight ivory smugglers. The monarch is an avid conservationist and has long campaigned against illicit wildlife smuggling. They talked extensively about the challenges rangers encounter when trying to stop poaching.
The Prince wants justice to be served he is“deeply saddened” about what happened. “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,” said the royal.
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
In a statement, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve paid tribute to a fallen wildlife warrior. The statement reads as follows.“Anton lived his beliefs, never wavered from his convictions, and above all he remained a brave and honest man. Today is a heartbreaking reminder of the huge challenges our wildlife protectors face and just how incredibly important it is to continue to support them in every way we can.”
“Timbavati said he was an exceptionally passionate, courageous, and spiritual man. Those who had the pleasure of meeting him, spending time with him, and working with him, will know how he dedicated his life to what he believed in, fighting for a species that has no voice of its own, and uplifting and inspiring the people who he knew needed his support. 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.”
Young Anton started working in a conservation career in June 1997 as a fieldworker for a team studying erosion. Anton demonstrated his enthusiasm and desire to accomplish more after being attracted to and inspired by the reserve’s beauty and fauna. The reserve administration saw his early leadership abilities and commended him for them. Anton completed his basic field ranger training in April 1998 and began his career as one of the newest field rangers in the unit. As a Full Corporal Instructor, Anton oversaw the training regimen designed to maintain his ranger squad mentally and physically healthy after being promoted in 2003.
He developed the moral code and work culture of the field ranger teams during this time, encouraging and motivating his troops to keep up their fight against wildlife crime. In 2008, Anton was promoted to the position of leader he was destined to hold being the Head of Ranger Services for the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.