The Board of African Parks Zambia 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. Mr Chilunda was shot in the chest by a suspected poacher after investigating gunshots that had been heard by park rangers stationed at a ranger outpost in the park.
It is believed that Mr Chilunda 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 (+-$10 000) has also been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.
African Parks Zambia chairman, Mr Charles Milupi, said that park management had been informed of the shooting at 9h00am 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 be airlifted to Livingstone. Park management had arranged for a medivac jet to airlift Mr Chilunda from Livingstone to hospital in Johannesburg for emergency treatment.
Mr Milupi today described Mr Chilunda as an experienced and dedicated wildlife law enforcement officer who was highly respected by his colleagues. "Dexter’s untimely death is a loss not only to Liuwa Plain, African Parks and the Zambian Wildlife Authority, but to Africa’s entire conservation community,” said Mr Milupi. "We will do everything in our power to bring the perpetrators of this murder to justice. Tragically though, even if justice prevails, this will not replace a valued law enforcement officer whose commitment and attributes as a conservationist were exemplary,” he said.
Mr Chilunda leaves behind a wife and four children. Mr Milupi said that Mr Chilunda’s family would be financially provided for in terms of the life-insurance policy put in place by African Parks. Mr Chilunda was on secondment from the Zambian Wildlife Authority to African Parks Zambia.
Source: Ms Cynthia Walley
Published Date: 26 May 2014