Prince Harry has warned the world has just 10 years to save humanity from an “extinction crisis” in a new gutwrenching letter made in the annual report for NGO African Parks of which the Duke of Sussex is the president.
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.
Currently, the organisation manages 17 national parks and protected areas in 11 countries covering over 13.3 million hectares in: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Prince Harry has been working with African Parks since 2016, and became President of African Parks in December 2017.
In July 2016, Prince Harry spent time in Malawi where he served as part of the expert team and helped implement the first phase of the 500 Elephants project, one of the largest and most significant elephant translocations in conservation history where 520 elephants were moved over 350 kilometres across Malawi among three parks under the management of African Parks.
In the organisations 2019 report, Harry made an impassioned speech about the ongoing extinction crisis and how coronavirus has highlighted humanity’s exploitation of nature.
The letter titled I have always loved wild places reads: “I have always been grateful for what wild places provide.
“Since my first trip to Africa as a young boy, I knew I would keep returning to this continent if I could, for its wildlife, for its people, and for its vast expanse.
“That is why I am so fortunate to have found African Parks and to have been asked to join them in 2017 as their President.
“I am hugely grateful for their clarity of purpose and am more motivated than ever to do all I can to advance the mission of protecting wild places, for wildlife, for people and for generations to come.
“We are currently living through an extinction crisis, and now a global pandemic that has shaken us to our core and brought the world to a standstill.
“On the extinction crisis the science is clear: we have perhaps a decade to course correct before we lock in our fate.
“On this pandemic, while much is still unknown, some evidence suggests that the virus’ origins may be linked to our exploitation of nature.
“The gravity of these challenges is coming to light, but we must not be paralysed by them.
“There are solutions that are actionable and that work, and the African Parks model is one of them.
“African Parks pioneered private-public partnerships as a mechanism for delivering resources and management expertise to some of Africa’s most embattled and vulnerable protected areas.
“These areas are essential for the well-being of local communities and in safeguarding our global climate, but only if they are protected and functioning properly.
“From humble beginnings with just one 70,000 hectare park in 2003, African Parks today manages 17 parks in 11 countries, with over 13.3 million hectares under strong, effective and inclusive conservation management – and we are not stopping here.
“The parks stretch from rainforests to deserts, and in 2017 we began managing the first marine national park – Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.
“Last March we found ourselves on the frontline of a devastating weather-related crisis when Cyclone Idai hit the coast.
“Homes were destroyed, people were displaced, there were cholera outbreaks, and lives were lost.
“But our Rangers were first in, transporting doctors and medical supplies and delivering food to those in need the most, even before international relief agencies could arrive.
“It was a stark reminder of how these parks are positioned and the role they play as anchors of stability, providing essential services during our most troubling times, including this global pandemic.”
“Since becoming a father, I feel the pressure is even greater to ensure we can give our children the future they deserve, a future that hasn’t been taken from them, and a future full of possibility and opportunity.
“I want us all to be able to tell our children that yes, we saw this coming, and with the determination and help from an extraordinary group of committed individuals, we did what was needed to restore these essential ecosystems.
“To all of our African Parks community, stay safe, stay well.
“Thank you for your continued support. Sincerely, Harry.”