It is with broken hearts that we write to you – our GCC family – to let you know that Anton Mzimba, GCC Technical Advisor, friend, mentor and hero to everyone on our team, is no longer with us.
On the evening of July 26th, Anton was brutally murdered in his own home and in front of his family. The police are currently pursuing three suspects whom we can only assume are hired hitmen. Anton’s wife was injured in the attack and is currently in hospital. All of Anton’s children escaped the attack safely.
Over the past several months, threats against Anton’s life have been increasing, speaking to the influence and effectiveness of his leadership in reducing poaching activity and preserving rhino populations in the Greater Kruger Region. GCC and other area conservation organizations are in constant contact with the local authorities regarding the progress of the manhunt and the investigation.
Anton was murdered in the name of his life’s passion – protecting rhinos, conserving nature, and fighting for a better future. We cannot find the words to express the depth of this loss. We are shocked, angry, discouraged and hurting.
“He always said he knew the risks. The risks of being a ranger. The risks of sharing his story. But that doesn’t change the fact that his loss is devastating. He could have done so much more. His family could have had so many more years with him…All we can do now is mourn his passing. Thank him for his life’s work. And honor his legacy by carrying his torch forward.”
– John Jurko II, GCC Creative Director and RHINO MAN Filmmaker
More than being an amazing and inspiring ranger, Anton was a great man. He was our friend. He was our hero. Above all, he believed that it was his sacred calling to protect this planet’s beautiful creatures and was willing to sacrifice everything – including, ultimately, his life – to protect the vulnerable and inspire the next generation to follow as wildlife protectors.
“It may be a dark time now, but we will ensure that Anton’s legacy lives on in all of us whose lives he touched. We will continue to cultivate the unyielding passion he showed to reconnect the young of the surrounding communities to wildlife to ensure that they too become guardians of their heritage. Today is a heartbreaking reminder of the huge challenges our wildlife protectors face and just how incredibly important it is to continue to support them in every way we can.”
This tragic loss serves as a painful and sobering reminder of the danger that Anton and other brave wildlife defenders face everyday. Over 150 rangers around the world have lost their lives in the past 12 months (The Thin Green Line). It is perhaps poetic that Anton’s memorial service will be held this Sunday on World Ranger Day. We invite you to remember him with us – light a candle, say a prayer, or just spend some time listening to his words and hearing his message of hope, compassion and courage.
“You need someone who has a passion for being a field ranger. This is our calling. This is our mission. This is our legacy…Being a ranger is something that, for me as a Christian, is very important. When I read Genesis Chapter One, verses 28 and 29, I am made aware that the Lord, our God, pronounced that we men are given powers to rule the land. We have to take care of the animals, the fish in the sea, and the birds in the sky. So this is what makes the profession a special one.”
– Anton Mzimba
Anton, we love you. We miss you. We promise to honor you by carrying on your legacy and protecting the vulnerable wildlife you sacrificed your life to save.