Prince William Experiences A Heartbreaking Loss

Prince William has shared his condolences following the alleged murder of Anton Mzimba, head ranger at the South African Timbavati Nature Reserve.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the killing of Anton Mzimba who I spoke to in November," the Duke of Cambridge wrote on Twitter. He and Mzimba met over video call, during a visit to Microsoft's UK offices to discuss new ways of dealing with ivory smugglers, per People. According to the Helping Rhinos organization (via Twitter), Mzimba was shot outside his home, which is located near Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga on July 26, 2022 (via The South African). This incident came after Mzimba had received death threats, which happens often for rangers. 

Police have started an investigation and have identified three potential suspects. "We strongly condemn this barbaric act," said Mpumalanga Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela, adding, "[W]e are adamant that it is just a matter of time before we arrest the perpetrators and put them behind bars."

Prince William wants justice for Anton Mzimba

On Twitter, Prince William publicly mourned Anton Mzimba. "Committed and brave, rangers like Anton [Mzimba] are central to the conservation of Africa's fantastic wildlife," he wrote. Like the Mpumalanga Police Department, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge agrees, "Those responsible must swiftly be brought to justice."

Mzimba and his wife were shot at their home, and his wife is currently in critically condition, according to The South African. Police say that the three armed men pretended to have car troubles and asked for water before they attacked Mzimba, per the outlet. News24 reports that while investigators cannot assume anything about the suspects, it's possible the incident has something to do with Mzimba's efforts in preventing ivory smuggling. 

When the Duke of Cambridge and Mzimba met virtually back in November, they discussed ivory smuggling in South Africa, a notoriously dangerous crime to fight (via National Geographic). "This is a very well-organized crime," Mzimba reportedly told William (via Yahoo! News). "It involves local people. But, down the line, it goes across the border of the country."

As People notes, William has been involved in numerous wildlife conservation charities, including Tusk. Charlie Mayhew, Tusk's Chief Executive said, "The Duke's support for Tusk over the years has been immensely helpful in raising both the profile of the charity and the funds that we need. His ability to draw global attention to the plight of endangered species being decimated by illegal wildlife trade has been warmly welcomed by conservationists across the globe and we are enormously grateful to him." 

Prince William and Anton Mzimba shared interest in conservation

​​When the Duke of Cambridge met Anton Mzimba last year, according to Channel 24 News, Prince William and the ranger were informed of new ways to combat ivory smugglers. 

Prince William and Mzimba both have ties to wildlife conservation in South Africa. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge has been visiting South Africa since he was as a teenager, and according to People, the duke has been committed to fighting the poaching that has been going on in South Africa for years. "I first fell in love with Africa when I spent time in Kenya, Botswana and Tanzania as a teenager," Prince William said in 2018 at a reception for the Royal African Society. "I was captivated and have been hankering to get back as often as possible ever since." Later in his speech, William discussed the problems with illegal wildlife trade and said, "This is why I am committed to doing what I can to help end this terrible, global crime."

Anton Mzimbu also spent his youth dedicated to protecting the wildlife of South Africa, starting out as an erosion fieldworker, according to Channel 24 News. Just a year later, he became a field ranger at Timbavati in 1998. This was a major accomplishment as he was one of the youngest field rangers, and his legacy will live on through continued efforts to protect wildlife and stop poaching.

Anton Mzimba's legacy lives on at the Timbavati Nature Reserve

​​The Timbavati Nature Reserve, of which Anton Mzimba was a head ranger, is an important piece of land in South Africa. The reserve was founded in the early 1950s to preserve the land and protect endangered and rare animals. This includes rhinoceros, birds, pangolins, and more.

In a post dedicated to Mzimba, its "fallen wildlife warrior," the Timbavati Nature Reserve wrote, "The Timbavati, as well as our Greater Kruger landscape, has not only lost a great man, but we have lost a special family member, a rhino warrior, a wildlife guardian, a loved one, a comrade, a friend and a true legend." The statement continued, "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 which has no voice of its own, and uplifting and inspiring the people who he knew needed his support." 

Having become head of ranger services for the reserve in 2008, Mzimba used his role to motivate the younger generation and inspire them to protect the South African landscape and its animals as he did.