The African Parks Network is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. At its head is one of the world’s most influential figures – His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, with support from his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.
Having visited Africa many times, the prince has taken a personal interest in conservation projects, working to protect Africa’s natural heritage and support both wildlife and local communities. This included in 2015 when, after leaving the army following a decade of service, he spent three months working on a number of projects across the African continent.
Harry’s first experience working alongside African Parks was in July 2016 in Malawi, where he served as an integral member of their team, carrying out one of the largest elephant translocations in history, as well as translocating a rhinoceros, a host of game species including antelope, buffalo and zebra. He also assisted in the re-collaring of three lions to help better protect them from poachers.
“There has to be a balance between the numbers of animals and the available habitat, just as nature intended it,” said Harry. “Elephants can’t roam freely like they used to without coming into conflict with communities, or being threatened by poaching and persecution. To allow the coexistence of people and animals, fences are increasingly having to be used.
“African Parks, in partnership with the Malawian government, has re-established a safe area for elephants to move to,” he said.
Named president of African Parks in December 2017 – which, with 13 parks under its management, has the largest area under conservation for any NGO in Africa – Prince Harry’s focus remains on elephants, using the recent Earth Day event on 22 April to highlight the work APN is doing to protect these animals.
“When a fenced area passes its carrying capacity for elephants, they start to encroach into farmland, causing havoc for communities,” says Harry. “APN relocated 500 Elephants to another park within Malawi to reduce the pressure and human-wildlife conflict and disperse tourism.”
In his role as APN president, Harry helps to advance the NGO’s mission in protecting the continent’s national parks and promoting wildlife conservation in Africa and around the world, using his global reach to spread the network’s message: “It’s amazing to see such unbelievable creatures being moved in a way you could never dream of. To be with elephants – such massive beasts – is a unique experience.”