Prince Harry moved to Africa at the end of June, to begin work fighting poachers and help in the conservation of Africa’s vulnerable species.
Today, a photo has surfaced of the 30-year-old Prince at Khulula Care For Wild. The organisation rears orphan rhinos, whose mothers are killed for their horns. Volunteers help take care of these infants, including feeding and entertaining them.
The Prince, looking relaxed in combats and sporting something of a beard, stopped by the centre near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, to learn about rhino conservation in the area.
— The Crown Chronicles (@crownchronicles) August 12, 2015
The photo comes as Harry begins the second part of his work in South Africa, having spent six weeks in Namibia, helping a government rhino de-horning programme to deter poachers from killing the vulnerable animals. He is now on the front line against heavily armed criminals and poachers in South Africa.
The Prince was last week flown into a military camp deep in Kruger Park, a large game reserve the size of Wales. Several hundred infantrymen, 400 armed rangers and 150 others, including special forces and police, are now working with Prince Harry, formerly a Captain in the Blues and Royals, as part of the government’s anti-poaching campaign, called Operation Corona. They are clearly an effective force, having eliminated more than 300 poachers already.
Harry is now part of this team, likely the most gruelling part of his time in Africa, as he works to eliminate poachers as a foot soldier. The Prince helps with night patrols alongside the army unit, who face guns and machetes from their target: poachers.
Last Wednesday, after Henry had joined the unit, the forces confronted three poachers along the Crocodile River. In a shootout, one poacher was injured and the rangers recovered high powered weapons, the Daily Mail reports.
A helicopter with automatic weapons and thermal imaging is also available to the team, along with two surveillance planes and several drones; they also use tracker dogs on night patrols, and can deploy attack teams. Prince Harry would likely be able to use his experience as an Apache helicopter pilot to fly this craft, or perhaps help co-pilot.
The poachers cross from neighbouring Mozambique every night, carrying high powered weapons, as well as knives and machetes.
The Prince has already served on two tours of Afghanistan in the fight against the Taliban, and so Harry is used to the arena of war, in this case, on poaching.
Retired Major-General Johan Jooste, Harry’s boss said: “This is a declaration of war against South Africa by armed foreign criminals. We are taking the war to these armed bandits and we aim to win it.”
“Harry will be with me for quite some time. We’ll try to keep him safe.”
Despite the unit’s efforts, rhino deaths in Kruger have more than doubled over the past few years, to 558 so far in 2015. Horns from the animal, which are made of keratin, the same as our hair and fingernails, fetch up to £20,000 a pound in the Far East, where they are falsely believed to have medicinal properties.
Harry is travelling as a representative of Zoological Society of London and the Tusk Trust, a charity of which his brother, The Duke of Cambridge, is patron.
South African conservationist, Peter Chadwick, said: “This is counter-insurgency, an actual war that they are fighting.
“I know of Prince Harry’s involvement with the anti-poaching unit in Kruger and I know the situation there is no fun and games. You don’t get a chance to sit down and reason with these guys over a cup of tea.
“It’s all about rapid response and that’s where the helicopters come in. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harry was doing some piloting.”
A statement from Kensington Palace before Harry left for the continent said: “Prince Harry will spend time working with experts at the sharp end of wildlife protection. He will join a team of rangers who are the first to respond to reports of poaching attacks on elephant and rhino.
“Wherever possible, Prince Harry will be fully embedded with the conservationists and frontline staff he will be working alongside, including living in the same accommodation.”
While much of his trip is being kept private for security reasons, a photo of his time in Africa surfaced on twitter today.
Tanzania and Botswana will be Harry’s next stops after his stint with the taskforce, where he will finish in September.
Photo: Eva Rinaldi