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Suspected poacher kills head of law enforcement in wildlife park in Zambia

JOHANNESBURG - A suspected poacher fatally shot the head of law enforcement at a wildlife park in Zambia after he set out to investigate reports of gunshots in the reserve, said a group that runs African wildlife parks.

Dexter Chilunda is believed to have come across two poachers during his patrol in Liuwa Plain National Park and he was shot in the chest at close range with a shotgun, the non-profit African Parks group said Monday.

Police and park rangers followed tracks leading from the site of the shooting on Friday and were pursuing leads they hoped would bring them to the culprits, said African Parks, which operates seven national parks in six countries. A reward of nearly $10,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Park managers had planned to airlift critically injured Chilunda to Livingstone town in southern Zambia, and then to a hospital in Johannesburg. But the father of four was pronounced dead at a camp in the Liuwa Plain park.

Anthony Hall-Martin, the co-founder and conservation director of Johannesburg-based African Parks, died May 21 of cancer at the age of 68. Hall-Martin had helped establish and expand reserves while working for South Africa's national parks service, and later negotiated with dozens of African governments to protect wildlife areas across the continent, according to African Parks.

The group said Hall-Martin led the transformation of Malawi's Majete wildlife reserve, which had been depleted by poachers, into an area stocked with more than 2,500 animals, including elephant, black rhinoceros, lion and leopard.

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