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Zambian wildlife ranger receives award for his anti poaching work

Neddy Mulimo, senior support manager, Game Rangers International   -  
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Patrolling the vast Kafue National Park in Zambia, these rangers are always on alert. Their team leader is Neddy Mulimo. He works for the anti-poaching unit of Game Rangers International, a non-profit wildlife conservation organisation established in Zambia in 2008.

Mulimo's work has been recognised and he year's recipient of a prestigious award, the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award. Sponsored by the Nick Maughan Foundation and launched by Prince William in 2013, the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award gives international recognition to the men and women who face danger daily as they protect Africa's wildlife.

"The animals we have need to be looked after and be passed on to future generations," says Mulimo.

Mulimo first joined the Zambian government's National Parks and Wildlife department (now called the Department of National Parks and Wildlife) back in 1985.

The country's national parks are teeming with wildlife that also attract heavily armed poachers determined to take prized items such as elephant tusks.

Mulimo explains that educating local people about the importance of wildlife is a key part of his job :

"As you know the threat of our wildlife comes from the people who live within the community. So first thing, show them that you love them, you need to protect them, then bring in your words and encouragement on how they can help you to take care of the wildlife."

His colleague Britius Munkombwe, a community outreach manager with Game Rangers International, agrees.

"It is very important to support communities living adjacent to other protected areas, the GMA's (game management areas) and the National Park because they are regarded as major stakeholders in wildlife conservation. Historically, these community members that live alongside the GMA actually used to live in the GMA and they gave out (donated) that piece of land for the purpose of wildlife conservation, so its very important that we work with them and consult them on many matters to do with wildlife conservation, because they know more that what anyone can know in terms of the history of these areas and how these animals have actually been in existence."

The danger associated with the job is amplified by findings from the Game Rangers Association of Africa Roll of Honour, which showed that more than 100 wildlife rangers were killed in the line of duty in Africa in the last year alone.

Rangers such as Mulimo often spend weeks away from their families when they are on duty.

As a leader, Mulimo says an integral part of his job is to protect the rangers he works with and to ensure that their welfare is taken care of.

"I am happy and this means the world has recognised my job that I have done for a very long time as a ranger and therefore encourage the growing (number of ) rangers doing the same job to carry on the job of resource protection. This job, it requires sacrifice, and (is) very demanding, someone should have passion, love for nature and then everything will be OK," says Mulimo.

The Tusk Wildlife awards take place in Hampton Court Palace near London on November 1, 2022.