Like his father The Prince of Wales and his grandfather The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge has a passion for conservation.
Through his charitable work he has championed causes which support communities in the UK and internationally to preserve their wild heritage for future generations.
In speeches and video messages, His Royal Highness has frequently spoken of the great challenge of balancing the conservation of wildlife and natural resources with the growing needs of the human race.
The Duke of Cambridge made conservation a key area of early focus for his own charitable foundation, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
As a grant-giving charity, one of the three key aims of the Royal Foundation is to support communities in their efforts to protect and conserve their natural resources for future generations.
His Royal Highness has also sought to raise awareness of the importance of conservation in a number of other practical ways – through private visits, keynote, speeches, public engagements, Royal patronage, and messages of support. The Duke’s work is ongoing.View Album (8 images)
Prince Harry and The Duke of Cambridge stroke a cheetah during a visit to the Mokolodi Education Centre in Gaborone, Botswana, 2010.
Prince Harry and The Duke of Cambridge hold a rock python during a visit to the Mokoldi Nature reserve near Gabarone, Botswana
The Duke of Cambridge plays with children who are part of the 'Coaching for Conservation' scheme in Maun, Botswana.
The Duke of Cambridge talks with members of the "Cycle of Life" team at Clarence House in London before they set off for their 5000 mile ride across rural Africa in aid of Tusk Trust, 2008.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk over a bridge at the Borneo Rainforest Research Center in Danum Valley, Borneo, 2012.
The Duke of Cambridge is the Royal Patron of the charity Tusk Trust, which works to protect endangered species in Africa such as elephant, rhino, cheetah, giant sable and marine species.
As Chief Executive of Tusk Trust, Charlie Mayhew has seen The Duke’s commitment to conservation first-hand.
He said: "Tusk has been incredibly fortunate to have had The Duke as its Royal Patron since 2005. His passion and deep concern for wildlife stems in part from spending some of his GAP year in Kenya, where he was exposed to some of the challenges facing conservationists.
“The Duke shares our philosophy that the future of Africa's unique wildlife relies heavily on our ability to successfully link the livelihoods of local people with the benefits of preserving their natural heritage.”
Tusk currently has a portfolio of 56 projects spread across 18 African countries. One such programme, managed by the Northern Rangelands Trust and supported by Tusk, has seen two million acres of community land come under a common conservation policy with initiatives that are directly and simultaneously benefiting 75,000 people as well as a significant wildlife population in northern Kenya.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry travelled to Botswana together on a joint overseas tour in 2010. The Duke was keen to show his brother the work of Tusk Trust in the country. Together the brothers visited the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation and reserve which is partnered by Tusk. The Foundation aims to promote a love of, and regard for Nature in Botswana’s youth through environmental education.
Another project they saw in Botswana involved developing a bio-boundary technique to reduce conflict between farmers and natural marauders and predators.
In a speech to mark Tusk’s 20th anniversary, The Duke said of projects like these: “The imperative of balancing conservation of wildlife and natural resources with the ever-growing needs of the human race is at the heart of the great challenge facing mankind today.”
Like their father The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry often play polo to raise money for charity, and The Duke has regularly played for the Tusk team.
Tusk has also benefited from support from other charities and organisations affiliated with The Duke of Cambridge. In 2008, young people from the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint took part in a 5000 mile Cycle for Life charity bike ride across Africa in aid of Tusk Trust.
Charlie Mayhew said: “The Duke’s support for Tusk over the years has been immensely helpful in raising the profile of the charity and the funds that we need. His ability to draw global attention to the plight of endangered species being decimated by illegal wildlife trade has been warmly welcomed by conservationists across the globe.
“He is a powerful advocate for Tusk and the work that we do to support conservation, education and community development right across Africa. We are enormously grateful to him."
The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge meet conservation leaders for a UnitedForWildlife meeting
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech at the #Endwildlifecrime conference
A video from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry on conservation
A video message by The Duke of Cambridge for CITES about wildlife conservation
The Duke of Cambridge talks about Tusk Trust
The Duke of Cambridge launches a 5000 mile bike ride through Africa
Through his position as a member of the Royal Family, His Royal Highness has been keen to raise awareness of the poaching crisis, particularly involving Africa’s rhinoceros and elephants, and the associated illegal trade in their horn and ivory.
Many experts highlight that Africa’s rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in decades, with the most serious poaching upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
In June 2012 The Duke gave an interview to the BBC to show his support for a Tusk Trust backed UK project sending three captive black rhinos to the wild in Tanzania in East Africa and to call for poaching to stop. About these very special creatures he said:
“These guys are prehistoric looking. They are the most incredible things and do we really want to live in a world 20, 30 years down the line where there's no such thing as a 'big five' [elephants, lions, rhino, cape buffalo and leopard]?," he said.
"It'll be the big four, then possibly the big three and then where do we go after that?
"Are our grandchildren ever going to be able to see the big five? I think that's terribly sad and that should never happen."
Watch the interview on the BBC website here
Another way in which The Duke promotes wildlife conservation is through public engagements in the UK and while on official overseas tours, often supported by his wife The Duchess of Cambridge.
During a visit to California in 2011, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a reception to mark the launch of Tusk's US Patrons Circle at the house of OSCAR winning film producer and philanthropist, Steve Tisch. They raised awareness for the charity amongst high profile US supporters, including actress Reese Witherspoon.
“It was inspiring to not only have Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the event, but also to hear how passionately they speak about their commitment to the cause,” Steve Tisch said.
At the London premiere of the film African Cats, which The Duke and Duchess attended in April 2012, he gave a keynote address where he highlighted there are now half as many lions living wild in Africa than 20 years ago, principally due to loss of habitat.
“Africa’s natural heritage is the world’s natural heritage. We have to preserve places like this…not just for us, but for future generations”, he said.
Later that year, in September 2012, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge put habitat conservation on the agenda again when they represented Her Majesty The Queen on a Diamond Jubilee Tour in South East Asia.
They took the opportunity to visit the Danum Valley in Sabah, which is home to some of the last remaining areas of primary tropical rainforest in South East Asia. The Royal Society, of which The Duke is a fellow, runs a research centre deep in the jungle.