The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William has suggested that an increase in human population on the African continent poses a danger to wildlife.
According to inews.co.uk, the father of three, made the comments at a royal-backed conservation charity’s awards on Monday night, while millions were tuning in to watch a controversial BBC documentary about his relationship with the media.
He told the Tusk Conservation Awards in London: “Africa remains on the frontline of conservation, playing host to the most awe-inspiring diversity of flora and fauna.”
The Duke added: “The increasing pressure on Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces as a result of human population presents a huge challenge for conservationists, as it does the world over.
“But it is imperative that the natural world is protected not only for its contribution to our economies, jobs and livelihoods, but for the health, wellbeing and future of humanity.”
Africa is home to an estimated 1.3 billion people, up from around 390 million in the 1970s. A projected population boom on the continent could see its population rise to nearly 4.5 billion by the end of the century, according to UN estimates.
Robin Maynard of the charity Population Matters said that the Duke had “rightly drawn attention to human population as a key driver of wildlife loss globally”.
However, he stressed the “wider context” of “rich, developed countries like the UK driving habitat destruction as forests are cleared for crops to feed UK and European livestock”.
Mr Maynard told The Times: “The most effective action we can take to cut our consumption [in the UK] is to choose smaller families, a choice not available to hundreds of millions of women elsewhere.
“The number of women with an unmet need for safe, modern contraception across sub-Saharan Africa is rising, representing a quarter of a century of failure by the international institutions supposedly addressing this basic human right and making the UK Government’s slashing of overseas aid to family planning even more deplorable.”
Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk said: “With COP26 having recently ended in Glasgow, the world has never been more aware of the importance of this planet’s precious biodiversity.
“We are dependent on the natural world for our own survival. Conservation is not a ‘nice to have’. It is a necessity.”
At Monday’s event, the Duke also paid tribute to those killed while protecting wildlife from poachers, speaking about the “sobering reminder of the bravery of the men and women fighting to protect Africa’s wildlife, and the tragic and needless human cost”.
Winners at the event included Suleiman Saidu, a ranger for Yankari Game Reserve in Nigeria, who leads anti-poaching patrols to protect elephants, as well as working with local communities and elephant guardians to help mitigate human-elephant conflict.
Mr Saidu dedicated the award “to all the heroes who died protecting wildlife”.
It has previously been reported that the Duke has mooted the destruction of all ivory in the royal collection over poaching concerns. Some ivory objects were removed from public display at royal palaces in 2017 to comply with laws barring “the display of unworked ivory for commercial gain”.
The Duke’s attendance at the awards came as BBC documentary The Princes and the Press aired allegations that media was briefed on disagreements between the future King and his brother, Prince Harry.
The royal family was not provided advance copies of the documentary amid last-minute edits, leaving the palace scrambling to assess its claims as it went to air.
The Duke, his father Prince Charles and his grandmother the Queen have all complained about the BBC’s handling of the documentary.
A joint statement from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace, included at the end of the documentary, said: “A free, responsible and open Press is of vital importance to a healthy democracy.
“However, too often overblown and unfounded claims from unnamed sources are presented as facts and it is disappointing when anyone, including the BBC, gives them credibility.”