Prince Harry, And Why the Rhino Needs its Prince Charming
Prince Harry received a mixed response from certain colleagues in the press for his recent trip to southern Africa to support the conservation work of Tusk and Rhino Conservation Botswana, with one rather sour local official calling his trip as a mere ‘ boy’s adventure holiday’.
I think they are missing the point. Poaching is out of control. Soon the rhino and elephant with become as mythical as the dinosaurs. When a prince of the realm says that poaching is a disaster for wildlife, people listen. Prince Harry is a bit of rock star. He is perceived to be far cooler and more adventurous than his older, more conservative brother Prince William, although he has done a great deal to support and champion conservation too. Both princes have inherited a love of nature from their late mother Diana, and from Prince Charles, one of the greatest, and most misunderstood conservationists of our age.
Prince Harry is a Role Model to Millions
Harry is a rather modern blue-blooded prince. He sometimes gets into scrapes, he clearly adores pretty women, and there is no doubting his courage as a soldier or that his heart is in the right place; so far, so human. Prince Harry is a role model and heartthrob to millions of young women (and men) around the world, and to see him capably assisting in an operation to save a rhino butchered by poachers, and hugging a darted elephant sends a very powerful message to young people around the world – that conservation is cool; rhinos and elephants matter. Nature is awesome.
The Slaughter of Africa’s Wildlife, a Waste of Beauty
I would go further. When one of the most eligible men on the planet is seen to become emotional over the site of Africa’s slaughtered wildlife, and talking about such a ‘waste of beauty’, that is a heartbreaking, authentic appeal that will help to raise a lot of money for animal conservation, nurture more young environmentalists and help reconnect us tot he natural world. It could also help win the war on poachers.
The Global Tragedy of Poaching Continues
And let’s face it; poaching has become a global tragedy. To reverse the slaughter of our endangered animals, we need to keep the topic in the news.
During his Africa odyssey, Prince Harry got stuck into the Rhino Botswana Conservation Project, helping to monitor, check and fit tracking devices to rhino that have been moved in a remarkable project to remove 1% of the world’s remaining wild, black rhino population to a safe haven in the Okavango Delta.
As Harry playfully declared to his 1 million followers on instagram, “Trying to stop a 3-tonne rhino with a rope and a blindfold isn’t easy, especially in this harsh terrain in Botswana.” He had praise too, for the Wilderness conservation team. ” Map Ives and Kai Collins, with the help of Botswana Defence Force and the government, are doing everything they can to protect their newly reintroduced rhino population.”
Whether we like it or not we live in an age obsessed by the allure of celebrity, and role models can be highly effective.
So Harry Wales, keep up the great work. Next time, invite the Ethical Hedonist along; I’m all in favour of blue-blooded conservationists.
About Botswana Rhino Project
The Botswana Rhino Project, operating as part of the independent trust Rhino Conservation Botswana, was initiated by Wilderness Safaris in 1999 in close collaboration with the Government of Botswana. Since the project’s first reintroductions of both white and black rhino into the Okavango Delta in October 2001 and November 2003 respectively, populations of both species have grown and the country has proven its credentials in being able to provide a safe range for these charismatic and dramatically threatened species.
A Safe Haven in Okavango
Over the past 12 months, Wilderness Safaris and Rhino Conservation Botswana have moved no less than 1% of the total global population of Critically Endangered black rhino into a safe haven in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – the latest phase in a collaborative project that spans over 15 years and has grown to become one of the most important rhino translocations ever undertaken in the history of conservation.
Constant Monitoring, to Avoid Exposure to Threats
Once released into the wild, the rhino are constantly monitored by Wilderness Safaris Rhino Monitoring Officers, the Botswana Defence Force, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ specialised Anti-Poaching Unit and officers of Rhino Conservation Botswana, in order to ensure that they are not exposed to any potential threats.
According to Map Ives, the Wilderness Safaris Environmental manger, “The hard work has just begun. If things go on as they are, rhinos will be extinct by 2024. International support and funding is crucial to ensure that we can continue to help make sure that this never happens. Knowing that we are dealing with living animals that are so rare and precious and which have been entrusted to us creates a sense of stress and urgency in each person, and yet brings about great satisfaction knowing that what you are doing is important for the species itself, as well as humankind”.
Wilderness Safaris operates on a sustainable, eco-tourism model, funding conservation through responsible tourism – www.wilderness-safaris.com
More About Wilderness Safaris: www.wilderness-safaris.com