Prince William found it "deeply humbling" to speak to winners at the annual Tusk Conservation Awards.
The Duke of Cambridge - who launched the awards in 2013 in his role as royal patron of the Tusk Trust - met with prize winners and spoke to key members and supporters of the organisation at the BFI Southbank in London on Monday (22.11.21) and enjoyed hearing about their conservation efforts in Africa.
Speaking on stage, he said: "Earlier this evening I spent time chatting to the award winners and finalists. Their courage, determination and commitment to African conservation is deeply humbling.
"As ever, it's been fantastic to see their outstanding work on the big screen. These wonderful films really bring their powerful and inspiring stories to life."
Those honoured at the event were Simson Uri-Khob, who won the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa in recognition of the 30 years he's worked to save black rhinos in his role as chief executive of Save the Rhino Trust in Nambia, Suleiman Saidu, a senior game guard ranger at Yankari Game Reserve in Nigeria, who was given the Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award in honour of his efforts in cutting elephant poaching down to just one case since 2015, and Julie Razafimanahaka, the executive director of Madagasikara Voakajy, whose work preserving the Mangabe rainforest earned her the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa.
In his speech, the 39-year-old royal reflected on how the "world has been turned upside down" due to the coronavirus pandemic in the two years since the ceremony - which was hosted by Kate Silverton - last took place in person.
And William stressed how the Tusk Trust's work is more vital than ever.
He said: "Africa has been hard hit, as economies, jobs and livelihoods have been devastated by lockdowns and travel restrictions.
"Many of the Tusk projects I have been lucky enough to visit have been hugely impacted, particularly where there is a dependence on tourism to underpin their conservation work. The work that Tusk does has never been more important."
And William insisted environmental issues need to be considered together.
He said: “In the aftermath of the COP26 conference, it is clear that we must see the environment, conservation and climate change through the same prism and not in isolation. Africa’s extraordinarily rich biodiversity has the ability to sequester vast amounts of carbon.
“But this is only possible if these landscapes remain truly intact and are protected as functioning eco-systems.
“Our wildlife plays a vital role in keeping nature in balance and maintaining this precious cycle of life.
“If we keep destroying or removing the threads that make up the natural tapestry of life on earth, it will simply begin to break down, exacerbating climate change still further.”