A South African ranger was shot and killed outside his home this week, a killing that illustrates the dangers facing conservationists fighting poaching in that country, reports Thursday the government.
Anton Mzimba, 42, chief ranger of the Timbavati Private Game Reserve, located near the famous Kruger Nature Park in northeastern South Africa, was shot dead while leaving his house on Tuesday, said the Department of the Environment.
In a statement, the reserve said it had lost a 'rhino warrior, wildlife guardian… and a true legend'.
While the circumstances surrounding the murder are unclear, UK charity Helping Rhinos said Mzimba had recently received “death threats”.
Nearly 80% of the planet's rhinos are found in South Africa. This makes it a poaching hotspot for this endangered animal, fueled by demand from Asia, where the horns are used in traditional medicine.
Mzimba had won several awards for his work for more than twenty years. He was featured in a documentary that in 2022 illustrated efforts to fight poaching gangs.
In a Twitter post, Prince William said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Anton Mzimba to whom I spoke in November”. He called for those responsible to be “promptly” brought to justice.
The South African government said the murder illustrated the dangers facing wildlife defenders in the country.
More than 450 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2021, according to official figures.