According to Mr. Pierce and Mr. de Kock, Mr. Mzimba learned in May that his name was then on a more serious hit list. Mr. de Kock and his wife offered to let Mr. Mzimba and his family temporarily stay at their home in another part of the country, but Mr. Mzimba declined, telling Mr. de Kock he needed to stay close to his fellow rangers.
According to Brigadier Mohlala, the police spokesman, two people arrived at Mr. Mzimba’s home on July 26 claiming that their vehicle had broken down and asking for water. Mr. Mzimba was outside working on his car, and when his son went to fetch the water, they shot Mr. Mzimba. They also shot his wife, who is still in the hospital.
No arrests have been made, Brigadier Mohlala said, “but it’s safe to say that we haven’t stopped investigating.”
Mr. Mzimba is not the first high-profile conservationist to be killed in what appears to be a targeted assassination. In 2017, for example, Wayne Lotter, co-director of the PAMS Foundation, an anti-poaching group in Tanzania that had been investigating ivory trafficking, was shot dead in a car on his way home from the airport in Dar es Salaam. “When we lost Wayne, it was definitely a big eye-opener for us as to what extent people would go if you’re getting in their way,” said Krissie Clark, founding director of PAMS.
In 2020, Lt.-Col. Leroy Bruwer, a South African police detective who specialized in investigating rhino poaching syndicates, was also fatally shot while driving to work. Last year, Bajila Obed Kofa, a senior Kenya Wildlife Services officer, was gunned down while driving home after dropping his daughter off at school.