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Prince Harry joins fight against poaching during visit to wildlife centre

2 December 2015
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It was a particularly emotional point in his trip for Prince Harry as he paid a visit to Kruger National Park in South Africa on Wednesday morning. The 31-year-old joined the environmental crime investigations rangers to gather evidence in the hope of catching poachers who had killed mother and baby rhinos and poached their horns.

Harry previously spent ten days at the park during the summer, and his knowledge and passion for the animals and their conservation was clear as he was shown around the scene. The Prince was joined by Major General Johan Jooste, who is in charge of Kruger's anti-poaching team, and Senior Environmental Investigator Frik Rossouw, who has been a ranger for 27 years.

PrinceHarry1 © Photo: PA

Prince Harry appeared moved as he joined an anti-poaching team at a crime scene

He mostly asked questions about the work and the scene but could not hold back his feelings at one point when he gestured to the carcass and said: "This belongs to South Africa and it's been stolen by other people. And the body's left here, wasted, just for...." Harry's voice trailed off in despair, but he later expressed his resolve to ensure the offenders would be caught.

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Harry was shown the scene which was a 12-minute helicopter ride from Skukuza airport in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, which is the gateway to the two million hectare national park, home to 8,000 to 9,000 rhinos.

The carcasses were found on Monday and are thought to have been there for two to three days before they were discovered. The mother was shot down and then her two-year-old male young, who would not leave her, was shot dead before the mother was killed with a third bullet.

PrinceHarry © Photo: PA

The prince spent ten days at the park during the summer

Harry was shown the bullets that were found lying on the ground as well as some cigarette butts that the poachers had left behind which will likely contain their DNA. Then he was taken to the carcass of the white mother rhino, which had been severely scavenged by vultures and hyenas, where he spoke about the DNA sampling taking place.

The Prince showed his knowledge as he said: "You have to try to get to the carcass a quickly as possible to suck up all the evidence before he wilds of Africa take it... It's always a race against time."

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While looking at the cigarette butts and surveying the scene Harry observed: "These guys seem a bit sloppy compared to the other guys".

PrinceHarry2 © Photo: PA

Harry showed his knowledge of poaching during the visit

Ranger Rossouw agreed, and explained that some amateur poachers don't know how to cut off the horn and just hack away at the head of the carcass.

The royal seemed at home in the African bush and was determined to throw the spotlight onto the rangers and their work by asking lots of questions and letting them demonstrate their procedures. He watched as forensic investigators Bella Khoza and Nonhlanhla Nbata took DNA samples from the rhino skin and also ballistic evidence to help identify the weapon the poachers used.

The team arrested two suspected poachers on the Mozambique border and also intercepted a suspect vehicle on Wednesday morning.

General Jooste said that when Harry was out with them in the summer he attended crime scenes and was moved by them.

The general said: "He saw crime scenes and carcasses, you could see that it deeply affected him, you could see the passion."

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