By KGAUGELO MASWENENG
Tributes are pouring in from around the world after an acclaimed field ranger at the Timbavati Game Lodge in Limpopo was shot dead by three armed men. Anton Mzimba’s wife was also shot and is fighting for her life in hospital.
The tragedy comes in the lead-up to World Ranger Day, 31 July 2022.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brig Selvy Mohlala said the shooting happened at the couple’s home in Edinburgh Trust outside Thulamahashe, near Bushbuckridge.
“According to the information, three armed men entered the house of the couple around 7pm where they pretended to be asking for water as their vehicle had a problem. As the child was busy assisting them, the men abruptly approached the man of the house (who was busy in his car) and allegedly shot him several times.
“It is further alleged that his wife screamed, then she too was shot by the suspects in the stomach. The three suspects are said to have fled the scene in a white VW Polo without taking anything in the house,” Mohlala said.
A true loss,” Jim Schneider said in a Facebook post. “While Anton could have made more money then he’d make in a lifetime for rhino information, his ethics and belief in wildlife/rhino conservation were greater. Thus, Anton sacrificed his life because he believed so strongly in the cause.”
Ashwell Glasson, an industry colleague said emotions run high, and tears have flowed around the world, at the senseless end of this respected and beloved man’s life. “And a titan of anti-poaching and the ranger sector gets murdered in his home. Too many rangers have death marks. A globally respected friend and colleague is no more,” said Glasson.
Timbavati shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park.
WHWF said not only was Mzimba a passionate conservationist, but he had a deep understanding of the socioeconomic challenges facing people living close to reserves.
Timbavati said while it is “co-operating with the authorities in the investigations that are under way, the reserve needs to remain confidential about the at this stage.”
The UK’s Prince William, who spoke to Mzimba in November, said he is “deeply saddened”.
“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.
Meanwhile, Mohlala said a case of murder and attempted murder was opened with the police at Mhala.
“The police have since launched a manhunt for the suspects and urge anyone with information to call Detective Sergeant Collen Nyalungu on 0769367222 or call the Crime Stop number at 08600 10111.
“Alternatively, members of the public can send information via MYSAPSAPP. All received information will be treated as confidential and callers may opt to remain anonymous,” said Mohlala.
Police were investigating whether Mzimba’s killing was linked to his work.