Harry traveled to Durban yesterday, for engagements centred around conservation, including poachers and rhino carcasses, rugby and surfing.
The day began with tag rugby – but of the barefoot variety. Prince Harry gladly took off his footwear to join in with the youth team The Sharks, at The Shark Tank stadium.
The Sharks helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds learn new skills to open doors for their futures.
Like his recent match of polo, where he fell of his horse twice, Harry’s team was not victorious, being beaten by the team’s CEO, John Smit, a former South African rugby captain.
On the Prince’s visit, Smit said it was a ‘privilege’ to host Harry. “To have him here, to see how humble he is, it’s a big deal.
“He comes across as such a good bloke. It’s good for our kids, who come from some pretty rural areas with not much to their names, to meet someone like him.”
At Addington Beach, Prince Harry was welcomed by screaming girls and fans there to see him.
The engagement saw the 31-year-old meeting Surfers not Street Children, a youth organisation which helps keep youngsters in the area around Durban off the streets and give them purpose, to help them become successful young people.
A keen sportsman, Harry told the youngsters he too enjoyed surfing and has tried it in Cornwall. Prince Charles is the Duke of Cornwall and thus owns masses of land in the county.
The group spoke to Harry about their enjoyment of the sport and he responded to one young man, who said he had hit the waves in Cornwall, by talking about Polzeath, where he and William were spotted in the sea in 2011, before the Royal Wedding.
Harry did not, however, join in, preferring to watch the workshop from the shore.
The former army captain wore a white shirt with the AIDS red ribbon, to show his support for World AIDs Day. Harry’s charity Sentebale supports children in Lesotho who have HIV/AIDS, having recently opened a new centre to lead residential courses – two rooms were named after Diana, Primcess of Wales and William and Harry’s childhood nanny.
At Kruger National Park, Harry’s last stop of the day, he went straight into a briefing at the Missions Area Joint Operations Service.
Here, the Prince was updated on the protection of the 8,000 rhinos the 2 million hectares is home to. Harry spent some time at Kruger in the summer, even helping to sedate and perform checks on a lion, as well as assisting armed patrols.
A bit of a furore was caused when a patrol dog, who assists the armed guards in protecting Kruger, bit a diplomat before Harry’s arrival. Stitches were needed but the victim was otherwise ok. Harry was later seen patting the offending dog, and took another’s lead as he walked around.
Poaching is a serious issue in Kruger, so Harry joined the environmental crime investigations team to help gather evidence to find those guilty of poaching baby rhinos and their mothers.
The passion the Prince feels for the cause was clear as he looked around the crime scene: “This belongs to South Africa and it’s been stolen by other people. And the body’s just left here wasted, just for…” He said despairingly.
Evidence, including cigarette butts, bullet cases and samples from the rhino carcasses were taken to help build a case against the poachers, to ensure justice is served.
Kensington Palace released a personal video of Harry’s, taken during the summer in Botswana: a rhino is blindfolded as it is released back into the wild. It stumbles as it tries to stand, still sleepy from sedation, with Harry assisting in checks in the animals health.
Prince Harry has released this personal video taken during his visit to southern Africa. Here Prince Harry shares his story behind the video… “Trying to stop a three tonne rhino with a rope and a blindfold isn’t easy! Especially in this harsh terrain in Botswana. Mapp 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. This sometimes means having to sedate them to check on how they’re doing.” If you want to find out more, look at Rhino Conservation Botswana: www.rhinoconservationbotswana.com/rhinoconservatio.html Video © Prince Harry
After a short while, the media was ushered away for Harry to spend time with conservation experts alone and learn more about their work.
In a speech at a graduation ceremony, the Prince praised his brother, William, during the visit: “I am incredibly proud of what he is achieving and will do whatever I can to support him,” Harry told graduates of the South African Wildlife College.
The Duke of Cambridge’s United for Wildlife charity will be supporting the college financially to help combat poaching and conserve the wildlife in the area.
speaking at a graduation ceremony at the Southern African Wildlife College, which is close to the Kruger National Park, where he had earlier seen the slain rhinos.
“My love of Africa has never been any secret – it’s just been a huge part of my private life. I’ve always wanted to keep it like that until I had the experience of age to give something back to a place that has given me and so many others the freedom and space we all crave,” he said. “This continent has given me thousands of happy memories since 1997 and for that I am indebted to it.”
Krugar, he said, had become “a major killing field. The numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500 percent in just five years, with most of these occurring in Kruger. Already this year, 1,500 rhinos have been killed in this country.”
“If current poaching rates continue,” the Prince said, “there will be no wild African elephants or rhinos left by the time children born this year, like my niece, Charlotte, turn 25. 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.”
The tour continues this week, and we will keep you updated!