“You need someone who has a passion for being a field ranger. This is our calling. This is our mission. This is our legacy.”
– Head of Timbavati Ranger Services, Anton Mzimba.
11 February 1980 – 26 July 2022
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.
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.
Let us honour his memory with a tribute to his life.
Anton Mzimba was an exceptionally passionate, courageous, and spiritual man. 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. There has been no greater man.
In June 1997, as a young man, Anton began his conservation career as an erosion fieldwork team member. Drawn and inspired by the reserve’s beauty and wildlife, Anton showed his passion and willingness to do more. His early leadership skills shined through and were recognized by the reserve management. In April 1998, Anton passed his basic field ranger training and started his journey as one of the youngest field rangers within the unit. In 2003, Anton was promoted to Full Corporal Instructor, overseeing the training program which aimed to keep his ranger team fit physically and mentally. During this time, he created the field ranger teams’ moral and work ethic, promoting and motivating his team to continue their efforts against wildlife crime. The year 2008 saw Anton lifted into the leader he was meant to be, Head of Ranger Services for the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.
The impact that this one man has had, not only within the wildlife space, but also touching the lives of, and inspiring young children, has been simply enormous. He worked tirelessly in motivating the youth to become future rangers, creating a vision of hope for young people to grow up respecting and protecting wildlife as he did. Anton’s enduring belief, something he shared with everyone he met, was that a field ranger should be seen as a hero, someone to aspire to become. Anton lived his beliefs, never wavered from his convictions and, above all, he remained a brave and honest man.
Listen to Anton’s last podcast with the Global Conservation Corps as he gave inspiration to all and opened up the world to what it is to be a ranger – https://rhinomanthemovie.org/ep-6-anton-mzimba/
We are extremely honoured to have had such an incredible man play such an important role within the Timbavati.
“No anti-poaching unit is better than its personnel. This award is not only for me and my team but it is also for our colleagues in wildlife conservation from all over Africa and beyond, including those that have lost their lives in the line of duty – I am just a receiver of the award on their behalf.” – Anton Mzimba, Getaway magazine, 2016
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 heart-breaking 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.
We share our condolences to all those who have had the pleasure of walking alongside Anton. Those who have followed his journey, his footsteps, his passions.
We thank Anton for giving of his life and love to the wildlife and people of the Timbavati. He will be profoundly missed but never forgotten.
We ask that people remain cognizant of the family’s privacy during this time of loss and mourning. We also remind the public and media that, while the Timbavati is co-operating with the authorities in the investigations that are underway, the reserve needs to remain confidential about the details of these at this stage.
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