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Prince Harry honours soldier killed in anti-poaching effort

Prince Harry honours soldier killed in anti-poaching effort

  • 30 September 2019
Image copyright Reuters

The Duke of Sussex has paid tribute to a British soldier killed during a counter-poaching operation in Malawi.

Prince Harry laid a wreath for Mathew Talbot, 22, who was killed by an elephant in May.

The duke was "honoured" to pay respects to Guardsman Talbot, who played a "huge part" in conservation efforts, a post on his Instagram account reads.

It comes after he claimed that protecting nature should not be dismissed as "hippy".

Prince Harry visited Liwonde National Park, in the south-east of the country, where Guardsman Talbot worked on a joint mission with the British Army, the Malawian government and African Parks.

"Often away from the public eye, many people are prepared to put themselves in harm's way, in a bid to protect wildlife from poachers," the post on the Sussex Royal Instagram account says.

It adds that the duke has worked closely with park rangers to tackle poaching and "celebrates each and every one of them as heroes".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Harry has made conservation a focus of his royal duties

Guardsman Talbot, who was from the West Midlands, served with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards and was charged by an elephant on 5 May. His body was returned to the UK.

Prince Harry took a plaque commissioned by his parents to the ceremony, in which they described their son as "a friend to all" who was fulfilling his "childhood dreams".

In a statement, Steve and Michelle Talbot said that he would be "happy" to know that Harry was helping to raise awareness about endangered animals.

Prince Harry's tribute comes after he claimed protecting nature was "fundamental to our survival".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said humanity needed to beat "greed, apathy and selfishness" to guarantee its survival.

He said it was essential to "co-exist", and learn from mistakes "to protect the world's most valuable assets".

Earlier, at a reception at the official residence of Britain's High Commissioner to Malawi, he said a major collaborative effort "across agencies, borders and continents" was needed to end the poaching of animals in Africa.

Prince Harry also held talks with Malawi's president Peter Mutharika.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a 10-day tour to southern Africa, their first official overseas trip with their four-month old son, Archie.

After paying tribute to Guardsman Talbot, Prince Harry watched Gurkha troops take part in a demonstration of tracking and surveillance skills.

He then dedicated Liwonde National Park and the Mangochi Forest to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy, a network of conservation projects.

Meghan and Archie have remained in South Africa while the duke undertakes a solo tour that has also seen him go to Botswana and Angola.

On Sunday, Meghan, met female activists and leaders at an event in Cape Town, South Africa.

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Meghan met guests at an event to honour South Africa's female leaders

In his Telegraph article, Prince Harry warned of "vast ecosystems" set ablaze in Africa and communities destroyed for short-term gain. He said a "natural order" between humans and wildlife must be restored.

He said: "This may well sound hippy to some. But we cannot afford to have a 'them or us' mentality. Humans and animals and their habitats fundamentally need to co-exist or within the next 10 years our problems across the globe will become even more unmanageable."

Image copyright DOMINIC LIPINSKI / POOL
Image caption The Duke of Sussex met Malawi's President Peter Mutharika on Sunday

Prince Harry added: "Nature teaches us the importance of a circular system, one where nothing goes to waste and everything has a role to play.

"If we interfere with it, rather than work with it, the system will break down."

A photograph of a Boabab tree taken by the duke at the national park was uploaded to the Sussex Royal Instagram account on Monday, along with an announcement that he was guest-editing the National Geographic's Instagram account.

A second photo showed him lying on the ground as part of 'Looking Up', a social media initiative to raise awareness of the importance of trees.

It is not the prince's first championing of the subject of conservation. In the September's edition of Vogue - edited by Meghan - the prince spoke about environmental issues and his love for nature.

Earlier this month, Prince Harry was forced to defend his use of private jets after newspapers claimed he and the duchess flew privately four times in 11 days this summer.

The duke said "no one is perfect" when it comes to their environmental impact, but stressed he "occasionally" used private jets to keep his family safe.