The Rhino Man Podcast is hosted by film director John Jurko II. He interviews top conservationists about the importance of rangers, rhinos, and what we can do to stop the poaching crisis. The podcast is in support of the Global Conservation Corps' documentary, Rhino Man — the story of the courageous field rangers who risk their lives every day to protect South Africa's rhinos from being poached to extinction. Make sure to Subscribe, Listen, and Rate on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube.
On the evening of July 26th, 2022, our dear friend Anton Mzimba was brutally gunned down at his home in front of his family, by what was presumed to have been hitmen from a rhino poaching syndicate. He always said he knew the risks. The risks of being a ranger. The risks of sharing his story. But that doesn’t change the fact that his loss is devastating. He could have done so much more. This podcast episode may be the last interview Anton gave. In it he gives us his life story, his hopes, and his dreams. May your legacy forever live on, my friend. 🦏🙏❤️
In this episode, I’m talking with my good friend, Anton Mzimba. Anton has been a field ranger in South Africa for over 24 years, and he is currently the Head of Security for the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. In 2016, he won Best Field Ranger at the Rhino Conservation Awards. Anton also serves as a technical advisor for the Global Conservation Corps.
In this conversation, we talk about how Anton became a ranger, his days of training rangers at the Southern African Wildlife College, the role of a ranger and how it has changed over the years, the emotional toll of facing armed poachers, and how to navigate family life with a job that takes you away from home for long periods of time. We also dig into potential solutions to poaching, which include working closely with local communities, and we get Anton’s thoughts on the coming release of Rhino Man.
In this episode, I’m talking with Timothy Santel. Tim is currently the Senior Advisor on International Wildlife Trafficking programs for Focused Conservation, which is a nonprofit changing the game in the battle against wildlife crime through investigations, government support, and information sharing. Tim spent over 33 years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and retired as a Special Agent in Charge of their Special Investigations Unit. Tim developed and oversaw a team of elite covert federal agents tasked with investigating transnational criminal organizations that were illegally trafficking wildlife. In recognition of his efforts, Tim received numerous awards throughout his career including the prestigious Guy Bradley Award, Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, and North American Wildlife Officer of the Year.
In this conversation, we go deep into the work being done at Focused Conservation, why what they are doing is important to the cause, and how you can support. We dive into Tim’s progression from growing up in a rural Midwestern town in the US, to becoming a law enforcement agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We go into many of his experiences on the job and investigations including Operation Crash, which resulted in nearly 50 prosecutions globally for trafficking in rhino horns and elephant ivory. Tim is generous with his stories and his wisdom.
In this episode I’m talking with Chris Galliers. Chris is the current President of the International Ranger Federation and we go deep on everything rangers, on this World Ranger Day. He is also the manager of Conservation Outcomes, which was created to provide support to land that is being developed and managed for biodiversity conservation outside of traditional state protected areas. Chris has been on the executive committee for the Game Rangers Association of Africa, and was the Senior Manager of Wildlife and Conservation Initiatives at WESSA.
In this conversation, we dive into Chris’s youth growing up on a dairy farm in rural KwaZulu-Natal and the curiosity that led him into the conservation field. We talk about the importance of rangers, the balance of conserving spaces while supporting growth, staying optimistic in work that can feel like a constant battle, and we go deep on the International Ranger Federation. Chris talks about the next World Ranger Congress, the Chitwan Declaration and the Universal Ranger Support Alliance, and the International Ranger Awards. Chris is deeply passionate about rangers, conservation, and his work. You won’t want to miss this wide ranging conversation.
In this episode, we turn the microphone on our host, John Jurko II. John is the lead director and producer who has overseen the completion of our documentary film, RHINO MAN, since 2018. After receiving a BA in Film Production and Philosophy at Bowling Green State University, he lived in Los Angeles, where he worked in the camera department of many indie films. He then moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was drawn to RHINO MAN for its story and potential as a social impact project. He created and hosts The Rhino Man Podcast to further build awareness of the importance of rangers, the rhino poaching crisis, and community engagement. John has presented to audiences such as His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, government, international financial crime delegates, law enforcement, and conservation NGOs.
In this conversation, we dive into the ups and downs along John’s winding journey into filmmaking. We go deep into his philosophy on life, how he came to RHINO MAN, and the endless obstacles he had to overcome to complete the film. We also talk about the devastating loss of his good friend and ranger, Anton Mzimba.
Matt Lindenberg, the Executive Director of the Global Conservation Corps takes the reins and hosts an intimate conversation with John. This episode shows how we can all contribute to the greater cause in our own way.
In this episode, I’m talking with my good friend, Orlat Ndlovu. Orlat is the Head of Ranger Services at the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which borders the Kruger National Park in South Africa. He’s been a dedicated ranger for over 14 years, and he was a close friend and colleague of the late Anton Mzimba.
In this conversation, we talk about Orlat’s early love of birds and how that passion for nature led to a career as a field ranger. We dive into the challenges he faced during ranger selection and training, the day-to-day work of a ranger in the Timbavati, and the many dangers of the job. We spend time unpacking the rhino poaching crisis, and how it changed the nature of his work. We go deep into what makes a good ranger, the nature of corruption within the ranger corps and how his team works to eliminate it, and the importance of educating and inspiring the youth. We even have a heartfelt discussion about the loss of Anton Mzimba, and the difficult task Orlat had in stepping up and taking leadership of his team during such a devastating time. Orlat is full of sage advice and love for the work he does.
In this episode, I’m talking with Marianne De Kock. Marianne along with her husband, Ruben, and their close friend, Martin Mthembu, founded and ran African Field Ranger Training Services, or AFRTS. Together they developed the coursework and trained tens of thousands of rangers across Africa and beyond. AFRTS continues to operate as a program of the Southern African Wildlife College’s Protected Area Integrity Department. Marianne served in the South African Military Defence Force, where she became a sharp shooter and participated in National Key Point shooting competitions. In 2018, Marianne was recognized as a Rhino Conservation Supporter at the Rhino Conservation Awards. She also plays a major role in our documentary film, RHINO MAN.
In this conversation, we talk about Marianne’s path into the military and how the training she received prepared her for her future work as a ranger trainer. We go into how she and Ruben met, and the leap of faith they took in starting AFRTS. She tells many stories of the early days, of the bonds she had with Martin Mthembu and Anton Mzimba, and the passion she has for the frontline of conservation, our rangers. This was such a lovely episode, and Marianne’s life of dedication to a bigger purpose shines through.
In this episode, I’m talking with Dr. Andrew Lemieux. Andrew grew up in the mountains of Arizona in the United States, before spending more than a decade researching wildlife crime at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement in Amsterdam. Andrew now manages LEAD Ranger’s Problem-Oriented Wildlife Protection program, the humble beginnings of a scalable approach to teaching problem-analysis and crime prevention to the global conservation community. Andrew is also the editor-in-chief of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing’s Wilderness Problems Resource Portal, and is a member of the scientific advisory committee for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Wildlife Crime report.
In this conversation, we dive into Andrew’s youth and path to studying criminology and wildlife crime. We go deep into the benefits of implementing problem-oriented policing in conservation, the importance of having a well trained analyst on your team, and the obstacles to convincing organizations to hire analysts and how to overcome them. We take a brief journey through LEAD Ranger ‘s development and explore their vision for the future, and we go into the broader advantages of looking at the world through the lens of problem solving, even outside of protected area management. This episode is jam packed with years of research and knowledge, and Andrew’s passion for the work shines though.