Prince Harry pictured hugging a sedated elephant in Africa in moving images that show the royal's heartbreak at animal slaughter
Emotive pictures showing Prince Harry's heartbreak at the senseless slaughter of animals in Africa have been released.
The Prince has spoken of his frustration at the killing of elephants and rhinos after working on the frontline of the fight against poaching for three months over the summer.
The photographs documenting his time as a conservation volunteer have been released on the day he was shown the carcass of a recently slaughtered rhino and her calf, at South Africa's Kruger National Park, and met wildlife park rangers at their nearby training college.
In the most striking image Harry lies on the stomach of a sedated elephant which is about to be freed - an intimate moment where he is spread-eagled against the huge animal.
In another of the images, all taken on a smart phone, he assists in the facial reconstruction of a rhino that has been attacked for its horn and left for dead and in another picture helps as a rhino is de-horned in order to protect it.
The final image shows Harry up close with Zawadi a back female rhino - the same animal his brother the Duke of Cambridge fed in Kent two years ago just before she left for Tanzania to live in a sanctuary.
Harry has written commentary notes to accompany the pictures and for the image of the elephant taken at Kruger, where he worked for 10 days during the summer, he said: "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."
Johan Jooste, Kruger's chief ranger in charge of anti-poaching operations, said that "rhino fever" was threatening the animals' existence.
South Africa has 80% of the world's rhino population with just over half that number, between 8,000 to 9,000, in Kruger park.
Last year 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa, almost triple the 448 poached in 2011, and as of August 27 this year 749 animals had been slaughtered with 544 of the deaths in Kruger.
Belfast Telegraph Digital