Prince William attends glitzy event for important reason - details
The Prince of Wales has warned against losing sight of the urgent need to protect the planet, as the world faces "turbulent times."
And as he hailed the "truly remarkable" winners of this year's Tusk Conservation Awards, he urged people to "remain focused on investing in nature and the environment, protecting it for future generations."
Addressing guests including past winners in the historic Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace, he said: "We are living through turbulent times and it is all too easy to lose sight of how critical it is that we look after our natural world.
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"But we must remain focused on investing in nature and the environment, protecting it for future generations. We must not pass on the baton to our children and grandchildren, apologising for our lack of collective action.
"Instead, we must all do more to support those who support our natural world, often at great risk to themselves."
Praising the bravery of those on the frontline of conservation in Africa, he said: "The Roll of Honour that we saw earlier serves as a shocking reminder of the ultimate price paid by too many men and women on the frontline of conservation. The work that rangers and game scouts do as nature's guardians is truly remarkable.
He went on: "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dedication and bravery of these men and women."
Acknowledging each of the winners in his speech, he said to Ian Craig: "When we spent time together earlier this year, I was reminded of both your commitment and dedication - it is truly inspiring."
William gave a speech at the ceremony
Among celebrity guests attending were Dragon's Den star Deborah Meaden, singer Katherine Jenkins and TV presenter Kate Silverton, all long-time supporters of the charity.
At a reception in the historic Queen's Guard Room of the Palace, Prince William chatted to nominees and guests including Ian Craig, the father of his "old flame", Jecca Craig.
Ian, who is Chief of Conservation at Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya, converted his family's 62,000-acre cattle ranch into a rhino sanctuary in the 1980s, and it went on to become the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, a model for conservation across the globe. He went on to help create the Northern Rangelands Trust, which links 43 conservancies across 63,000km2 of wildlife territory.
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The Prince spent part of his gap year at Lewa, growing close to Jecca, who remains a good friend. He later returned to Kenya with his then girlfriend Kate Middleton, asking her to marry him there in 2010.
Now in its tenth year, the Tusk Awards celebrate the work of those working on the frontline of wildlife conservation in Africa.
To help mark the milestone, Tusk awards alumni from across Africa gathered for year's event, including Benson Kanyembo, a Law Enforcement Advisor at Conservation South Luangwa in Zambia, who helped to reduce elephant mortality rates by 66% between 2018-2020, and Edward Ndiritu, the Head of Anti-Poaching at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, who has sustained a poaching level of near zero for seven years and counting across the Lewa landscape.
William attended the glamorous event
The heir-to-the-throne has been patron of Tusk since 2005 and helped to launch their inaugural awards in 2013.
Singer Katherine Jenkins, who was attending with her husband Andrew Levitas, said: "We have both been ambassadors for Tusk for a long time and we've been fortunate enough to go to Africa to see first-hand what they are doing out there.
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"As parents, we feel really passionate, we all have a responsibility globally to do something to end the crisis.
"We have to pass the word on to the next generation. We would love our children to be able to see these amazing rhinos and lions in the wild."
Katherine Jenkins also attended
Andrew added: "This is shining a bright light on these folks that are committing themselves on the ground to making a real difference. There's nothing more heroic than putting your life on the line for this work."
Katherine said of the Prince: "We have witnessed how passionate he is about this cause, it's something very close to his heart."
"You can feel the genuine commitment he has and the genuine passion and it makes a real difference," added Andrew.
Charlie Mayhew, Tusk chief executive, said: "This is the 10th year of the awards and when we started these awards 10 years ago it was very much an experiment, we didn't know how well they would resonate and here we are 10 years on and it's been a great success.
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"I think the issues and the challenges around climate change, conservation and the environment are beginning to resonate more and more with the public and certainly with our donors and people have been extremely generous in the past couple of years."
He said of the Prince's support: "We all know how much he loves Africa and he's always very at home there.
"He has always been incredibly passionate about conservation, he's always been there. We've been fortunate to have him as patron for 17 years now, these awards were as much his idea as ours. He helped to instigate it, so it's something he's been very personally invested in."
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