Prince Harry's devastating photos from South Africa are why poaching needs to go.
Prince Harry's tour of Kruger National Park in South Africa quickly become emotional for the 31-year-old royal.
(Warning: Potentially upsetting image below).
The prince was heartbroken to see the carcasses of endangered animals left behind by poachers.
"This belongs to South Africa and it's been stolen by other people. And the body's left here, wasted," the prince said upon viewing the body of a rhinoceros with just its horn cut away, according to a report in The Guardian.
Harry has been documenting the trip on Instagram and appealing to his followers to help stop poaching.
Among the heartrending photos: this one of the prince hugging an elephant that had been sedated for examination.
"After a very long day in Kruger National Park, with five rhinos sent to new homes and three elephants freed from their collars - like this sedated female - I decided to take a moment.
I know how lucky I am to have these experiences, but hearing stories from people on the ground about how bad the situation really is, upset and frustrated me. How can it be that 30,000 elephants were slaughtered last year alone? None of them had names, so do we not care? And for what? Their tusks? Seeing huge carcasses of rhinos and elephants scattered across Africa, with their horns and tusks missing is a pointless waste of beauty."
And this one, in which Harry, sadly, works to dehorn a rhino — one of the only short-term methods of deterring potential poachers.
"I was working with Dr. Mark Jago and Dr. Pete Morkel in Namibia. Some countries are de-horning small populations of rhino to deter poachers from shooting them. It is a short-term solution and surely no substitute for professional and well-trained rangers protecting these highly sought-after animals. De-horning has to be done every two years for it to be effective and can only realistically be done with small populations in open bush."
There are many more here. Warning: Several of them are extremely graphic and upsetting.
Poaching is no joke, and it's a growing problem.
The ivory trade has already devastated the rhinoceros population, which currently sits at around 29,000 (down from about 500,000 in the early 1900s). The death of a white rhino at the San Diego Zoo last month left the total number of that rhino species remaining on Earth at just three.
It's not just the animals that are at risk.
Big-game poaching often disrupts tourism for countries that depend on it, as the growing scarcity of wildlife to view and the possibility of violence dissuades potential visitors. Fewer visitors means increased local poverty and staff cutbacks at national parks, which can lead to even more poaching.
There are some signs of hope, however, that the tide might be slowly turning.
Back in September, the U.S. and China signed an agreement to take steps to stem the ivory trade — a very big deal, as both countries are among the world's largest markets for the illicit substance. And this New York Times report found increasing levels of local support for anti-poaching efforts. It also found that even some former poachers are turning against the trade, which they see as contributing to the destruction of their own communities.
Ultimately, Prince Harry is right. It's critical that we save these majestic animals and — just as importantly — the people whose livelihoods depend on their survival before it's too late.
Here are some good folks — including Save the Rhino, the Black Mambas (a predominantly female anti-poaching brigade in South Africa), and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation — who are on that. Do check them out.
We can't allow moments like this to become a thing of the past.
Prince Harry has released this personal photo taken during his summer visit to southern Africa. Here Prince Harry shares his story behind the photograph... "This was the second time Zawadi, a female black rhino, met someone from my family. My brother William fed her three years ago in Kent just before she left under a translocation project to Tanzania where she now lives in a sanctuary. Thanks to the passion and stubbornness of Tony Fitzjohn OBE and his amazing rangers, she and many others are living it up in the bush and their numbers are growing. She goes nuts for carrots and I loved being able to send William this photo. Hats off to Tusk Trust." http://www.tusk.org/mkomazi-national-park Photograph ©Prince Harry
A photo posted by Kensington Palace (@kensingtonroyal) on