Anton Mzimba, the lead ranger at a reserve in South Africa, had received multiple death threats. But he tried not to let the warnings of danger get to him, reminding himself that by protecting rhinos he was working for the greater good, according to an interview he gave last year.
“What I’m doing, I’m not doing for my own sake,” Mr. Mzimba said in the 2021 interview. “I’m doing this for the world, for my children’s children, so that one day, when I hang my boots — when I retire, when I die — they are going to enjoy the wildlife.”
Africa’s close-knit conservation community has been reeling since Mr. Mzimba was gunned down in front of his family at home on July 26. His wife was also shot, but survived. The slaying has stoked concerns that criminal syndicates may be growing more brazen and violent in their efforts to secure illegal wildlife products.
Mr. Mzimba, 42, was the head ranger at Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, a 206-square-mile protected area in the Greater Kruger landscape, home to elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, leopards and cheetahs. In an environment plagued by poaching and corruption, Mr. Mzimba was known for being incorruptible — a stalwart of conservation.
“If you want to talk front line, you talk Anton Mzimba,” said Ruben de Kock, operations manager for LEAD Ranger, a professional training group. “He was the ultimate ranger.”
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