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William in tribute to wildlife ranger murdered in front of family

Anton Mzimba was shot dead near the Kruger National Park in South Africa last year.

The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to a ranger who was murdered in front of his family at a film screening about the battle to stop South African rhinos being poached to extinction.

Anton Mzimba was head of ranger services at Timbavati private game reserve in north-east South Africa, near the Kruger National Park, when he was shot outside his home last year.

He had previously spoken to William via video link when the royal visited a technology company to learn about a new device to combat ivory smugglers.

William was joined by the Duchess of Edinburgh, who has a strong interest in wildlife protection, at a screening of Rhino Man, a documentary which follows the next generation of South African wildlife rangers.

More than 150 guests attended the screening at Battersea power station on Tuesday hosted by United for Wildlife (UfW), William’s initiative to fight the illegal wildlife trade.

The prince said: “The murder of Anton Mzimba is a stark reminder of the daily dangers that all rangers face around the world protecting the natural world from the international criminal organisations that seek to profit illegally from wildlife and I’m proud to see his life and legacy recognised in Rhino Man.

“This is not a burden they can bear alone. An effective response to this vicious crime demands attention and collaboration across the entire chain of criminal activity, not just on the front line.

“That is why United for Wildlife, through its global financial and transport taskforces, and wider alliance of partners, has taken action to ensure that those involved in wildlife crime will be met with an international response as powerful and co-ordinated as any other serious and organised crime.”

In the last six years the UfW has contributed to nearly 500 law enforcement cases, more than 300 arrests, over 200 seizures of wildlife products and has trained over 100,000 people.

The prince and duchess met Anton’s cousin Leitah Mkhabela, who is supervisor of the Black Mambas, South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Edinburgh attend a private screening of Rhino Man
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Edinburgh attend a private screening of Rhino Man (Susannah Ireland/PA)

William told Ms Mkhabela: “He was very inspirational. I only met Anton once. He was incredibly passionate and also very motivational for all of you.”

The audience also heard from Orlat Ndlovu, head of ranger services at the Timbavati private nature reserve, who described Anton as a “brother and a mentor” who led by example.

The ranger, who said he had been on the “firing line facing rhino poachers,” told the cinema audience: “He loved and treated everyone with respect including his enemies. He saw good in them hoping that they would see good in him.”

Paying tribute, Amanda Berry, CEO of The Royal Foundation, said: “(Anton) made the ultimate sacrifice for his work when he was brutally murdered at home in front of his family.

“Sadly, Anton’s family and colleagues are not alone in experiencing such a devastating loss.

“Rangers around the world risk their lives daily, often with limited training, pay or support.”

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