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Prince William Honors a Slain Wildlife Ranger During a Rare Engagement With His Aunt Sophie

On Tuesday night, Prince William and his wildlife protection charity United for Wildlife hosted a screening of Rhino Man, a documentary honoring the life and legacy of wildlife ranger Anton Mzimba. Before he was murdered by wildlife traffickers in July 2022, Mzimba had actually spoken to William before his death about his work at the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, and last year, the prince said he was “deeply saddened” by Mzimba’s death. 

William also brought his aunt Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, to the Tuesday screening at Battersea Power Station. It was a rare joint engagement for the pair, who are usually joined by their respective spouses, Princess Kate and Prince Edward. Though Sophie is not formally involved in wildlife protection efforts, she has learned about the issue during her travels in Africa as a representative for the United Nation’s Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

Rhino Man was produced by the Global Conservation Corps, which counted Mzima as one of its technical advisors. Before the screening began, William met some of the people featured in it, including Ruben and Marianne De Kock, who founded a service that field trains rangers, current wildlife ranger Orlat Ndlovu, and the film’s director John Jurko II.

In his remarks at the event, William spoke about the importance of the film. “The murder of Anton Mzimba is a stark reminder of the daily dangers that all rangers face around the world protecting the natural world from the international criminal organizations that seek to profit illegally from wildlife, and I’m proud to see his life and legacy recognised in Rhino Man,” he said. “This is not a burden they can bear alone.”

William has long been passionate about wildlife conservation, and spent part of his gap year in Spring 2001 traveling in Tanzania, Kenya, and Botswana to learn about it first hand. In 2014, he made his commitment to the cause official, when the Royal Foundation, the charity he shares with Kate, founded United For Wildlife to fund frontline conservation organizations and increase law enforcement and NGO cooperation in poaching and trafficking cases.

In a statement, Amanda Berry, the CEO of the Royal Foundation, praised the work United For Wildlife, while underlining the risks that wildlife trafficking still poses. “At the current rate of poaching all rhinos in the wild could become extinct in the next two decades. It is inconceivable to think that rangers can protect these precious creatures alone, no matter how dedicated and excellent they are at their duties,” she said. “Through United for Wildlife, we know a unified and coordinated response works. Sharing intelligence and best practice has led to an increase in arrests and seizures year on year.”

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