Is Prince Harry making a difference in African conservation?

Following a long history of anti-poaching efforts by the British royal family, Prince Harry spent three months in Africa working as a volunteer this past summer. 

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Britain's Prince Harry (R) gestures as he chats to a student at the Southern African Wildlife College, near the Orpen Gate of the Kruger National Park in the Limpopo province, South Africa December 2, 2015. At the college Prince Harry meets students who benefit from an innovative government Jobs Fund programme, designed to train young rangers and find employment for them in wildlife parks.

Britain's Prince Harry visited South Africa’s Kruger National Park Wednesday to highlight anti-poaching efforts in the area. 

A long-time advocate of wildlife conservation, the 31-year-old prince spent three months this summer working as a volunteer in veterinary and tracking efforts across Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Botswana. Harry posted a number of photos from his summer on the official Kensington Palace Instagram account this week to coincide with this visit.

“How can it be that 30,000 elephants were slaughtered last year alone? None of them had names, so do we not care? And for what? Their tusks?” Prince Harry asks on Instagram, under a photo of him hugging an elephant. “Seeing huge carcasses of rhinos and elephants scattered across Africa, with their horns and tusks missing is a pointless waste of beauty.” 

Harry took time out of his visit Wednesday to speak with students at the South Africa Wildlife College Wednesday, a school for rangers-in-training, congratulating them on their important work, USA Today reported.

“I have seen for myself that you and your fellow rangers are doing everything in your power to turn this tide, and we must support your efforts in whatever way we can,” he said after announcing his family’s anti-poaching charity, United for Wildlife, will partner with the college to fund further ranger training programs.

But conservation officials at Kruger aren’t looking to Prince Harry for solely monetary donations – they say the publicity he brings to the issues is equally important. 

“His Royal Highness is not coming here with a bag of money. If he can go away from here as an ambassador, understanding what we are up against, that is important to us,” Major Gen. Johan Jooste explains to The Telegraph. “Somebody like him, as credible as he is, coming here from the Royal family, coming from the northern hemisphere, that’s extremely important to us. This is the world’s rhinos, not just South Africa’s.” 

Major General Jooste says five years into the campaign and millions of rand later, and the poaching numbers are not receding. The next step, he says, is to tell the world what is happening in the park. 

Jooste said Harry’s military background was especially helpful this past summer, allowing the prince to give local officials advice on potential offensive tactics against poachers both on the ground and in helicopters. 

“If current poaching rates continue there will be no wild African elephants or rhinos left by the time children born this year, like my niece, [Princess] Charlotte, turn 25,” said Harry, reported The Telegraph. “If we let this happen, the impact on the long-term prosperity of this country and on the natural heritage of the planet will be enormous and irreversible.”   

And Prince Harry’s efforts follow a long history of conservation efforts by Britain's Royal Family.

His brother, Prince William, traveled to the US last year to address The World Bank on the need to end the illegal wildlife trade. And just last week, William handed out awards at the Tusk Trust Conservation to honor global leaders in wildlife conservation.

Harry even sent William a photo of a rhino that his brother had helped in South Africa years earlier. “I loved being able to send William this photo,” Harry wrote on the Instagram post.

William and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, is an environmental steward in his own right, addressing world leaders at the Paris climate summit this week.

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