Rhino anti-poaching hero and Prince Harry ‘chum’ gored by black rhino
Former Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife rhino protector Lawrence Munro is recovering in a Johannesburg hospital after he was gored by a black rhino while attempting to shield a group of tourists from the charging animal during a walking safari in Malawi.
He was airlifted to a private hospital in Johannesburg after suffering serious wounds to one of his legs. He is reported to be recovering well.
Regarded as one of Ezemvelo’s most passionate anti-poaching officers‚ Munro left the organisation eighteen months ago to join the African Parks network as field operations manager for Malawi’s Liwonde National Park.
It is understood that the former Dundee High School head boy was escorting a group of tourists in Liwonde when a black rhino charged the group last week.
African Parks confirmed in a brief statement issued on Monday that Munro and fellow rhino ranger Maxwell Mulenga stood in front of the charging beast to protect the guests. Munro was gored in the leg‚ while a guest also injured his ankle during the melee. Mulenga wasn't injured.
“Fortunately both will fully recover. We were very grateful there were no other injuries to anyone else.”
The animal charged off into the bush after the attack.
Before leaving South Africa in late 2015‚ Munro was at the front-line of rhino anti-poaching efforts in Ezemvelo’s flagship Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
He felt so passionate about halting the poaching that he took study leave to learn how to fly. After obtaining his private pilot’s licence he helped to set up ZAP-Wing‚ a small group of pilots that began to patrol Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and neighbouring private reserves.
He was also commended by Ezemvelo in 2009 for his role in arresting four rhino poachers and in 2014 was honoured as one of the winners in the annual Rhino Conservation Awards organised by the Department of Environmental Affairs‚ private donors and the Gamer Rangers Association of Africa.
Previously head ranger of the iMfolozi wilderness area at the Makhamisa outpost‚ Munro became head of Ezemvelo’s Rhino Operations Unit‚ an anti-poaching task force for the whole of KwaZulu-Natal.
The award citation noted that Munro’s line of work was “unforgiving‚ unrelenting and dangerous” and that Munro and his young family had to be constantly on guard.
Munro said at the time that he had received a number of death threats.
“Letters addressed to me say: ‘We don’t want you around anymore’.”
Commenting on Facebook on Monday‚ the Game Rangers Association of Africa wished Munro a speedy recovery‚ while former Ezemvelo colleague Paul Havemann said it was time he found a safer job behind a desk.
The Daily Mail tabloid reported online on Monday that Munro had become a “close friend” of Britain’s Prince Harry and recently shared breakfast with him during a 10-day elephant relocation project in Malawi.
The Mail claimed that “his close friendship with Mr Munro began shortly after the Prince left the Army in 2015" and that they spent "several weeks working on military anti-poaching patrols".