HE has risked his life on night patrols against heavily armed poachers, led undercover operations and beaten malaria time and again. Now wildlife ranger Neddy Mulimo’s bravery and dedication have been recognised in prestigious conservation awards set up by Prince William.
Neddy, Senior Ranger at the Specialist Anti-Poaching Unit in Mumbwa, Zambia, was today named this year’s winner of the Tusk Conservation Wildlife Ranger Award. It comes as more than 100 African rangers have been killed in the line of duty during the last year alone.
From undercover operations to advocating for rangers’ working conditions, Neddy has played a crucial role in developing anti-poaching operations in the region for more than 35 years.
Throughout the decades, he has made great personal sacrifices, including long periods away from his family, going without rations for his team, putting his own personal safety on the line, and winning many fights with malaria.
But the modest hero says he is only doing his duty.
“First and foremost, I believe I should protect other people and the wildlife around me, he explains. “If these animals are not taken care of and left to these selfish men who shoot them for money, for sure, in generations to come we’ll have no animals.”
His commitment to conservation goes even further than his field work – he has been at the heart of improving tactics and working conditions, mentoring new rangers, and working with communities to build relationships and gather intelligence.
Neddy is highly respected and well-known in the local communities he operates within, acting as a vital link between Game Rangers International and the people who live in and around the national park.
After completing 12 months of national service military training, he was employed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and worked at Tree Tops Conservation School Camp in Kafue National Park.
The National Parks and Wildlife department asked him to join them as a scout in 1985, and he worked for seven years across many parks across Zambia, including Mumbwa.
Next, Neddy was moved to the Blue Lagoon National Park in the hope that he would help with serious levels of poaching there, and he was fundamental in drawing up new law enforcement strategies which significantly increased arrests and reduced poaching.
In 2007, the department requested that he return to Mumbwa to co-ordinate all anti-poaching operations in the region, including Kafue National Park – and, five years later, he joined the Specialist Anti-Poaching Unit.
“Neddy is a truly exceptional ranger,” says Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk. “For 36 years he has dedicated his life to conservation, and it shows in the passion and drive with which he does his job.
“We’re delighted to be able to thank Neddy for his endless dedication to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife with this award.”
The Tusk Conservation Awards, launched by Prince William in 2013, celebrate their 10th year at London’s Hampton Court Palace on Tuesday November 1, and raise the profile of conservation leaders and their crucial work with wildlife and communities across Africa.
For details of all winners see the awards website.