Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Prince Harry honours soldier killed while working on counter-poaching operation

Prince Harry has honoured the sacrifice of a British soldier who died helping to safeguard endangered wildlife in Malawi.

The Duke of Sussex laid a wreath at a simple memorial to Guardsman Mathew Talbot in Malawi's Liwonde National Park, where the serviceman was killed after being charged by an elephant while on an anti-poaching patrol with local rangers in May.

Guardsman Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, was on his first deployment and was passionate about his work training Malawians to protect animals like elephants and rhinos.

Harry has written to his family on two occasions and took a plaque they commissioned for the memorial with him when he travelled to Africa.

The Duke's handwritten message attached to the wreath read: "In grateful memory of Guardsman Talbot who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country and conservation. Rest in Peace."

The Duke of Sussex is on a 10-day tour of Africa. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

British military have been deployed across Africa helping in the fight against illegal poaching, training rangers in tracking, general infantry skills and bush craft.

Guardsman Talbot was working to train rangers and act as a role model for them, and as part of a team had helped to remove 229 snares which hampered the work of poachers.

Brigadier Tom Bateman, in charge of all counter-poaching deployment, gave a brief eulogy to the guardsman he knew, and before laying a wreath said: "Mathew Talbot was a young soldier in the early stages of his career as a Coldstream guardsman.

"Fired with enthusiasm for conservation and specifically counter-poaching, his professionalism, personal courage, was a hallmark of who he was.

"He wanted nothing more than to deploy with his battalion, who are scheduled to go on operations in Iraq next year.

"His selflessness in the face of adversity and his unique humour are typical of the characteristics of a British Army soldier - and we're all immensely proud of him.

"It's a sad day when we must gather to commemorate such a young brave life."

British soldier Mathew Talbot Credit: MoD/PA

After paying his respects at the memorial cairn erected by the side of a road, the Duke travelled a short distance to see Gurkha troops taking part in an demonstration of tracking and surveillance skills.

Harry watched as mock poachers arrived back at their camp with tusks after killing an elephant, and then made off.

A patrol of soldiers searched the area for clues before heading into the bush to follow their trail, and caught the men with the help of a helicopter that swooped down sending out clouds of dust.

Harry ended his visit to Malawi by dedicating Liwonde National Park and the adjoining Mangochi Forest to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy - a network of forest conservation initiatives involving Commonwealth countries.

In a brief speech he said: "African Parks, Malawi's rangers and Britain's military are sharing respective field skills to improve expertise tracking, information analysis, bushcraft and patrol skills.

"This is one of the many examples of how our countries and key stakeholders can work together in partnership with a shared value and purpose.

"Anyone who puts themselves in harm's way while serving their country should be hugely appreciated."

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech at a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Lilongwe on Sunday. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Also on Monday, Harry wrote in a national newspaper that conservation is “fundamental to our survival” and should not be dismissed as “hippy”.

The Duke also warned of “vast ecosystems” set ablaze in Africa, communities destroyed for short-term gain, and said that a “natural order” between humans and wildlife must be restored.

He added: “This may well sound hippy to some.

“But we cannot afford to have a ‘them or us’ mentality.

"Humans and animals and their habitats fundamentally need to co-exist or within the next 10 years our problems across the globe will become even more unmanageable.”

Harry stressed it's about "striking a balance".

"I get accused of being hippy for saying this but everything is in balance, we're the only thing that's putting everything out of balance," he said.

"So somehow we have to be able to accept, learn and appreciate what already exists rather than destroying it and then realising that we then need to recover from it."

He warned we are "literally driving ourselves to extinction" and that the vast majority of problems faced by communities find their root cause in what humans are doing to the climate.

Also on Monday, the Duke personally edited the National Geographic Instagram account as he stepped up his campaign on the environment and the "disconnect between the people and the land".

As the 10-day tour of Africa continues, Prince Harry is sharing messages and pictures on conservation efforts he declares "fundamental to our survival".