The Duke of Cambridge has paid tribute to “committed and brave” ranger Anton Mzimba who was reportedly shot and killed outside his home.
William called for those responsible for the death of the conservationist, who worked in South Africa, to be “swiftly brought to justice”.
Mr Mzimba was head of ranger services at Timbavati private game reserve in north-east South Africa, near the Kruger National Park.
He spoke to William via video link last autumn, when the royal, who has campaigned against illegal wildlife smuggling, visited a technology company to learn about a new device to combat ivory smugglers.
Head of Ranger at Timbavati, Anton Mzimba, was shot and killed outside of his home last night. This follows recent death threats and highlights the daily threat facing Rangers.
Our deepest condolences to Anton’s loved ones and co-workers at this difficult time pic.twitter.com/fRayloiFjB
— Helping Rhinos 🦏 (@HelpingRhinos) July 27, 2022
In a message posted on his official Twitter account, and signed off by William, he said: “I’m deeply saddened to learn of the killing of Anton Mzimba who I spoke to in November.
“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. W”
Timbavati also tweeted in tribute to the ranger: “Anton, you have left a legacy – one which we will, in your honour, hold up high and never forget.
“We mourn the loss of Mr Anton Mzimba, Head of Ranger Services, who dedicated 25 years of his life to the Timbavati. A true testimony of a wildlife warrior.”
The duke and the ranger spoke during William’s visit to Microsoft’s offices in Reading to meet developers of new AI technology that can detect ivory hidden in suitcases.
Mr Mzimba reportedly told the duke about the involvement of criminal gangs in targeting wildlife: “This is a very well-organised crime. It involves local people. But, down the line, it goes across the border of the country.”
In a tweet posted on its official account the charity Helping Rhinos said: “Head of Ranger at Timbavati, Anton Mzimba, was shot and killed outside of his home last night.
“This follows recent death threats and highlights the daily threat facing Rangers. Our deepest condolences to Anton’s loved ones and co-workers at this difficult time.”