Prince William and Prince Harry learned devastating news this week after the African nation of Botswana lifted its ban on elephant hunting, The Express reports. Both princes have advocated for the conservation of African wildlife, elephants in particular.
Africa is near and dear to the hearts of the two princes. Their father, Prince Charles, reportedly took them there to comfort them after their mother, Princess Diana, died. Both men have spent time there, in Commonwealth nations (that is, nations that still ceremonially recognize the British monarch as their Sovereign) as part of their royal duties as well as in their personal lives.
Similarly, both men have advocated for the conservation of threatened wildlife in Africa, particularly when it comes to elephants. Both princes, for example, have praised the park rangers and other officials who fight elephant poaching, and both men have advocated for disrupting the illegal ivory trade.
Unfortunately, both men suffered a major setback this week after Botswana, an impoverished African Commonwealth nation, lifted its ban on elephant hunting.
The nation had banned elephant hunting in 2014, consistent with international efforts aimed at conserving the threatened mammals. That has led to Botswana being something of a sanctuary for the mammals, where an estimated 130,000 of them roam freely, the most of any African nation, according to The New York Daily News.
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That’s created a problem for Botswanan farmers as the freely-roaming animals can devastate a crop almost instantly. To that end, Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced this week that the ban was coming to an end in an effort to protect farmers.
Conservationists and celebrities across the world have decried the news, offering dire predictions of mass culling of Botswanan elephants, as well as providing a jolt to the illegal ivory trade, in Botswana and in other African nations where elephants roam.
As of this writing, neither Prince William nor Prince Harry has publicly responded to Botswana’s lifting of its elephant-hunting ban. However, even as the conservation community deals with the fallout from Masisi’s announcement, Prince William was continuing his advocacy for elephant conservation by announcing candidates for a conservation award.
As The Telegraph reports, Prince William is the royal patron of Tusk, an elephant-conservation group. And in an official announcement on Friday, the future king praised the efforts of individuals on the front lines of protecting Africa’s elephants.
“As so much of the natural world continues to face the alarming and real threat of extinction it is vital we recognise how much we owe to conservation’s unsung heroes whom the Tusk Awards shine a spotlight on.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the two species of elephants that inhabit Africa are “Vulnerable” due to poaching as well as habitat loss and climate change.