Ranger who protected rhinos shot dead by organised crime

Anton Mzimba was a hero. He was a warrior and he was doing fantastic work in “running one of the most effective units in the area. The rhinos on the Timbavati were well protected by his team. He had become a major obstacle to the poachers who wanted to take his area. So, there was pressure, there were threats, but he faced it all down” according to Ashwell Glasson of the South African Wildlife College.

Anton Mzimba
Anton Mzimba. Photo in public domain.

Until this thorn in the flesh of organised crime in South Africa became too irritating and so they decided to kill him in front of his family. The murderers have yet to be identified but, as mentioned, it’s going to be poachers and poaching is organised crime in South Africa. They have absolutely zero consideration for conservation and they will go on killing rhinos and, when necessary, rangers until there are no rhinos left in the wild. At that point they will have to stop and go into some other area of criminality to make their profits.

The Duke of Cambridge, in a tweet, paid tribute to the South African wildlife ranger. He had a 25-year long career protecting rhinos. Poachers had attempted to bribe him and there were death threats against him. His murderers escaped in a 4×4, witnesses said. His wife was injured in the attack which took place last Tuesday. She is recovering in hospital.

In a message posted on his official Twitter account and signed by William, the Duke of Cambridge, he said: “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 African’s fantastic wildlife. Those responsible must swiftly be brought to justice. My thoughts are with his family. W”.

Note: This is an embedded tweet. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

The duke had spoken to Mzimba via a video link from Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading. He was at Microsoft to learn about new technology designed to stamp out the smuggling of illegal wildlife products. Mzimba told the duke that poaching was heavily involved with organised crime.

Mzimba was head of ranger services at the Timbavati private nature reserve. Poachers have decimated the number of rhinos in neighbouring Kruger Park by two thirds over the past decade. Like many others, I can only see one outcome; the extinction of rhinos in the wild. Or if there are any rhinos left in the wild in 30 years’ time their horns will have been removed. Their value is astonishing: US$400,000 per kg for Asian rhino horns and US$20,000 per kg for African rhino horns.

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