Prince Harry has just become the President of a South African conservation organization, “African Parks.” The news broke first during a BBC radio program that was curated by the Prince of Wales himself, as well as from a public statement on behalf of Kensington Palace.
Created in 2000, this non-for profit organization seeks to fulfill its goal of managing 20 national parks on behalf of government, and to grow its 850 enlisted rangers to defend wildlife against aggressive poaching. This NGO not only contains the most protected land in the continent, but also the most military trained rangers.
Prince Harry has been involved in this organization since 2016, where he assisted the translocation of 520 elephants and rhinos, as well as re-collaring three lions. Becoming the president will help shine a light on how powerful NGO’s can operate in such serious areas of conservation. Community livelihoods are sadly interconnected to poaching in some cases, and having an NGO that interconnects relationships with government officials and park managers is satisfying. Prince Harry’s appointment as President also helps shine a light on their work and will perhaps inspire more people to take action.
His royal and public status will represent this organization very well when meeting other government officials in Africa; allowing for new positive relationships. New found publicity may surround wildlife accomplishments coming out of cooperating countries, and I think it may be an opportunity to raise public awareness of responsible wildlife tourism, as well as a progressive attitude on their behalf.
Besides this possible consequential benefit, the government officials are addressing the larger issue with Harry, which is habitat loss, poaching, and soil degradation. Elephants disperse seeds, and without new tree growth, the soil may lose moisture and become more susceptible to erosion; making agriculture harder. Trees anchor the soil during floods and windstorms, and drifting soil can clog and disrupt rivers leaving those without water.
Chairman of Africa Parks named Robert-Jan van Ogtrop stated, “Prince Harry will work closely with our Board and Peter Fearnhead our CEO, to advance our mission in protecting Africa’s national parks. He’ll be able to help shine a light on the most pressing and urgent issues wildlife are facing, and most importantly, what people can do to help”.
Can Prince Harry and his Royal status help save Africa’s wildlife?