Prince Harry’s in the news again, but it’s not his widely publicized love life that’s making the Internet rounds. Instead, it’s his visit to southern Africa and the threats to endangered animals that he saw there.
The 31-year-old royal spent three months over the summer volunteering in wildlife conservation, The Guardian reported, and he recently documented the trip on Instagram. It’s clear that the visit got him fired up about the slaughter of elephants and rhinos, which poachers kill to satisfy demand for ivory and horn.
In this photo, Harry hugs a sedated elephant in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park. Rhino poachers have targeted the park since 2008, but for years it’s been regarded as a haven for elephants. But Wildlife Watch reported in November that a spike in elephant poaching at the park has conservationists worried about more killings.
“I know how lucky I am to have these experiences, but hearing stories from people on the ground about how bad the situation really is, upset and frustrated me. 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? Seeing huge carcasses of rhinos and elephants scattered across Africa, with their horns and tusks missing is a pointless waste of beauty."
Then there’s this one, taken in Namibia. The prince is helping researchers de-horn a rhino so that poachers don’t slaughter it for its horn.
“Some countries are de-horning small populations of rhino to deter poachers from shooting them. It is a short-term solution and surely no substitute for professional and well-trained rangers protecting these highly sought-after animals.”
Another photo shows Harry assisting in a surgery to save the life of a rhino that had its horn hacked off by poachers.
It’s not the first time the royal family has taken aim at wildlife crime. In 2013, Prince Charles gave a speech calling for the end to the illegal wildlife trade. Then last December, Prince William announced that a new task force would examine the transportation industry’s role in wildlife trafficking.
In March, William traveled to China—a huge consumer of illegal wildlife products—and condemned wildlife trafficking. Months later, he went back to the country to reiterate the message.
This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.