Prince William ‘Dreams of Africa,’ Mourns Wildlife

Prince William loves Africa and its wildlife so much he dreams about them, and tears up at the fate of a butchered rhino.

Prince William and rhino

Prince William feeds a young black rhino called Zawadi on visit to animal park in Port Lympne, England. He helped plan to relocate captive rhinos back to Africa.
(Photo: Chris Jackson Getty Images)

Prince William, who’s been enamored of Africa and its wildlife since he was a teen, now is even more emotionally attached — tearing up over a dying rhino — following the birth of his son, he says in a documentary to air Sunday.

Becoming a parent can do that, even for a prince and future king, the father of baby Prince George, born July 22.

Interviewed for Prince William’s Passion: New Hope, New Father, airing in the USA on CNN Sunday night, the second-in-line to the throne says fatherhood has made him more protective of the vulnerable, including wildlife, and even more of a conservationist like his royal ancestors.

So when he saw a video clip of a butchered rhino bleeding to death, tears welled up, according to the film’s director, Jane Treays, writing in the U.K.’s Radio Times.

“I find, even though it’s only been a short period, that a lot of things affect me now — when I see a clip like that there’s so much emotion and so much feeling wrapped up into conservation and environment, It’s just so powerful,” Will says in the film. “The wildlife is incredibly vulnerable and I feel a real protective instinct, more so now that I am a father, which is why I get emotional about it … you want to stand up for what is very vulnerable and needs protecting. Elephants, rhinos and many other animals that are persecuted don’t have a voice.”

William, 31, patron of the wildlife conservation group Tusk Trust, will be accompanied by Duchess Kate (but not George) when he awards the group’s first conservation medals at a gala on Thursday in London.

The prince first went to Africa as a teenager, following in the footsteps of his late mother, his father and grandfather as well as other royal relatives who have long been supporters of conservation. He even proposed to Kate in Africa, and he hopes to pass on his love of African wildlife to little George.

Now he thinks of the continent often.

“I do regularly daydream, and Africa is definitely one of the places I go to,” he says. “I’ve got hundreds of animals on my iPhone, noises and sounds of the bush, so if I’m having a stressful day, I’ll put a buffalo, a cricket or a newt on and it takes you back instantly to the bush. And it does completely settle me down.

“Africa emotionally and mentally has affected me,” he adds. “It’s magical. Every time I go back it brings out new things. This is a lifelong commitment and I’ll always be involved … no matter what.”

He’s not just fond of the critters; it’s the people, too, he says. One of the best things about the approach of Tusk Trust, he says, is that they try to protect animals in a way that also protects the people who live with them.

“We have to remember how desperately poor these guys are … this is all they have known, living in these communities with their cattle and goats, and they will protect them to their last breath,” he says. “Their water and grazing is in very short supply. Conservation has to have these communities’ blessing.”

And his favorite furry friend?

“Ha, that’s a hard one! I have to say I do love cheetahs, they are the most docile, awesome creatures. They can be lying perfectly quietly, and then … an absolute killing machine. It’s the elegance of them, they way they look at you … they would come quite high on my list.”

– USA Today