Prince Harry has released some personal accounts of his summer visit to southern Africa. Here are the images and videos that Prince Harry shared on his official Instagram account as well as the story behind each one.
“I was working with Dr. Mark Jago and Dr. Pete Morkel in Namibia. 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. De-horning has to be done every two years for it to be effective and can only realistically be done with small populations in open bush. My initial task each time was to monitor the heart rate and oxygen levels and help stabilise them as quickly as possible. My responsibilities then grew to taking blood and tissue samples and the de-horning itself.”
“By this point many people will have heard of ‘Hope’, a young female black rhino that was brutally wounded by poachers in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This was the second operation to try to save this animal’s life. Some poachers use a dart gun and tranquilize the animal so as to not have to fire a shot that would be heard. They then hack their face off while the animal is paralysed before running off with the horn. Local communities saw her stumbling through the bush and then alerted the authorities. Thanks to Dr William Fowlds and his team, Hope survived and is making a speedy recovery. I stared into her eyes while operating on her and thought at first that it would have been better and fairer to put her down rather than put her through the pain. Afterwards I was told of another female called Thandi who was in a similar state in 2012. She now has a baby calf called Thembi. Every single rhino matters.”
“After a very long day in Kruger National Park, with five rhinos sent to new homes and three elephants freed from their collars – like this sedated female – I decided to take a moment. 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.”
“This was the second time Zawadi, a female black rhino, met someone from my family. My brother William fed her three years ago in Kent just before she left under a translocation project to Tanzania where she now lives in a sanctuary. Thanks to the passion and stubbornness of Tony Fitzjohn OBE and his amazing rangers, she and many others are living it up in the bush and their numbers are growing. She goes nuts for carrots and I loved being able to send William this photo. Hats off to Tusk Trust.”
“These baby rhinos are at an orphanage because their mothers were killed by poachers. I can’t say where this is for obvious reasons. But I spent an afternoon with Petronel Nieuwoubt who runs the orphanage. The youngest rhino was called Don. He was just two months old when he was found in Kruger National Park. Petronel has students and volunteers from all over the world come to look after these orphans. They pay for this experience and that money is used for milk, food, fencing and rangers for security.”
“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.”
“There is no pretending that any of this will be easy. It won’t be. But when we win this battle and reverse the rise in poaching, the victory will belong first and foremost to those on the frontiers. And here is the proof that the battle can be won. A female rhino who had her horn hacked off by poachers in 2012. She now has a baby calf called Thembi.”