Prince Harry hugged a sedated female elephant in Kruger National Park, South Africa on his Royal Tour of the region.

Prince Harry Hugs Elephant

Harry, on his fourth day in South Africa, visited the national park and took a moment to embrace an elephant that had been sedated so that she could be transported elsewhere. In a statement, the 31-year-old prince explained that many thousands of elephants like the one in the above picture are slaughtered each year for their tusks.

“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,” Harry wrote. “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?” Harry continued. “Seeing huge carcasses of rhinos and elephants scattered across Africa, with their horns and tusks missing is a pointless waste of beauty.”

In addition to learning about the plight of elephants, Harry witnessed first-hand the cruelty that rhinos are facing as well. He worked with vets in Namibia to de-horn a rhino. Harry also helped to operate on a rhino whose face had been hacked off for her horns.

“By this point many people will have heard of ‘Hope’, a young female black rhino that was brutally wounded by poachers in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This was the second operation to try to save this animal’s life,” Harry wrote about the severely wounded animal. “Some poachers use a dart gun and tranquilize the animal so as to not have to fire a shot that would be heard. They then hack their face off while the animal is paralysed before running off with the horn. Local communities saw her stumbling through the bush and then alerted the authorities.”

“Thanks to Dr. William Fowlds and his team, Hope survived and is making a speedy recovery,” Harry added. “I stared into her eyes while operating on her and thought at first that it would have been better and fairer to put her down rather than put her through the pain. Afterwards I was told of another female called Thandi who was in a similar state in 2012. She now has a baby calf called Thembi.”

Prince Harry’s trip to South Africa also included an appearance at the Opening of a new Charity Centre for children in Lesotho as well as stops in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.