While travelling from Beitbridge to Harare by road the investigator, a 28-year-old male Zimbabwean, was forcibly stopped and assaulted, allegedly by having petrol poured over his vehicle and ignited while he was restrained inside.
It appears the assailants tied the man’s hands with his own shoelaces to prevent him escaping the fire. He was, however, able to extricate himself but not before suffering burns to around 30% of his body.
No other IAPF rangers or staff were involved in the assault and normal operations continue in support of Zimbabwe’s natural environment, communities, and wildlife.
The victim was transported initially to Beitbridge hospital before being airlifted to Harare for further treatment at the earliest opportunity. His condition is reported to be serious but stable.
IAPF Founder and CEO Damien Mander said: “The IAPF takes the safety of its workers extremely seriously. Our team reacted quickly and efficiently in organising the best possible medical support for this brave protector of wildlife and we are hopeful he will make a full recovery, although these are early days in his treatment”.
Mr Mander added: “This particular ranger has been one of our most fearless and committed wildlife crime fighters for a long time. The attack appears to be in retaliation for arrests made earlier on Sunday, involving suspected rhino poachers.
“We condemn the use of violence against those who attempt to uphold the laws of Zimbabwe and protect its wildlife against poaching. We are working with the appropriate authorities and will leave no stone unturned in efforts to bring the perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice.”
The IAPF expresses sincere gratitude to all those involved in assisting the evacuation, recovery, and ongoing operations.
The victim has been interviewed by the relevant authorities and investigations are ongoing.
As this incident involves sensitive information regarding illegal activities and we expect multiple prosecutions to follow, no further details can be released at this time.
You can support his recovery at this gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/f/tied-up-burned-alive-ranger-tango-needs-you?