An alleged poacher fatally shot the head of law enforcement Dexter Chilunda at Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park.
“A wife lost her husband, four children are without their father, and we lost an outstanding colleague who was passionate about conservation and deeply committed to the protection of wildlife at Liuwa,” said Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of African Parks, which runs the reserve.
“We will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. Dexter Chilunda’s untimely death is a testimony to the sacrifice of people, like him, who are willing to make every effort to keep Africa’s last remaining wilderness areas safe.”
Chilunda had set out to investigate gunshots that had been heard by park rangers stationed at a ranger outpost in the park, when he is believed to have come across two poachers.
A reward of almost $10,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.
African Parks Zambia chairman, Charles Milupi, said: “Dexter’s untimely death is a loss not only to Liuwa Plain, African Parks and the Zambian Wildlife Authority, but to Africa’s entire conservation community.”
Meanwhile in South Africa, five poachers have been arrested aged between 26 and 38 in Gravelotte, Limpopo. They were found with a .375 Sako hunting rifle, silencer, butcher knife, an axe and eight rounds of live ammunition, said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaud.
They will appear before the Phalaborwa Magistrate’s Court on Friday to charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
A former SANParks field sergeant and two police constables were also arrested at the Kruger National Park on Tuesday for rhino poaching related crimes.
“The SANParks and SAPS officials who performed the arrests are congratulated for their outstanding work. The arrest sends a strong message that officials alleged to be involved in poaching will be arrested and face the full might of the law,” said Minister Molewa.
A total of 419 rhino have been poached in South Africa so far this year and a total of 119 people have been arrested in connection with rhino poaching.
Earlier this month, Nepal saw the killing of the first rhino in over a year. Between February 16, 2013, and February 16, 2014, no rhinos where shot and killed for their horns in the country.