African Parks regrets to announce the tragic death on Friday 23 May of Dexter Chilunda, park ranger in charge of law enforcement, at Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia. He was on secondment from the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) to African Parks Zambia. Dexter was shot in the chest by a suspected poacher after investigating gunshots that had been heard by park rangers stationed at an outpost in the park.
It is believed that Dexter encountered two poachers in the central area of the park, one of whom shot him at close range with a shotgun. Police and park rangers investigating the incident have followed tracks leading from the scene and are following up concrete leads. A reward of 60 000 Kwacha (+- US$10 000) has also been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.
The park management team was informed of the shooting at 09h00 on Friday and rushed to the scene whilst putting emergency evacuation plans in place. Police were also informed of the shooting and three police officers were immediately dispatched to investigate. Every effort was made to assist the critically injured officer, but he was sadly pronounced dead on arrival at the park’s Matamanene Camp, from where he was to have been airlifted to Livingstone. Park management had arranged for a medivac jet to airlift Dexter from Livingstone to hospital in Johannesburg for emergency treatment.
“A wife lost her husband, four children are without their father, and we lost an outstanding colleague who was passionate about conservation and deeply committed to the protection of wildlife at Liuwa”, said African Parks CEO, Peter Fearnhead. “We will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice. Dexter Chilunda’s untimely death is a testimony to the sacrifice of people, like him, who are willing to make every effort to keep Africa’s last remaining wilderness areas safe.”
Dexter’s wife and children will be financially provided for in terms of the life-insurance policy put in place by African Parks.