In a joint undercover operation targeting suspected rhino poachers in southern Zimbabwe, an International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) ranger was run off the road by two vehicles in the early evening on Sunday. Using the rangers own shoelaces, the suspects then tied his hands to the steering wheel of the car, covered his head with a jacket, doused the vehicle in fuel, and set it on fire.
Miraculously, he was able to escape through a window as they began exploding from the heat of the fire. The victim horrifically suffered severe burns to 30% of his body and was evacuated by air to a private hospital, where he has been stabilized and is isolated under protection and expected to make a long recovery.
Just prior to the incident, two suspects were arrested by local agencies in connection with the alleged rhino poaching, while the remainder of the investigation is ongoing.
“This particular ranger has been one of our most fearless and committed wildlife crime fighters for a long time. It is with a heavy heart that such heroes committed to nature are targeted for execution style attacks,” IAPF Founder and CEO Damien Mander said in a statement sent to WAN. “This, however is the state of the world we have created for ourselves to manage where everything has a price tag on it and that nature must be defended daily by those willing to pay the ultimate price.”
The IAPF expresses their sincere gratitude to all those involved in assisting the evacuation, recovery and ongoing operations.
Founded in 2009, IAPF has been instrumental in fighting wildlife crime in Zimbabwe and surrounding regions. Working alongside local authorities, IAPF has been involved in the arrest of 292 suspects involved with wildlife crime offenses in Zimbabwe since the beginning of 2020 alone. As per the organization’s records, those arrests have had a conviction rate of 89.2%.
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