Prince William spoke out against wildlife poachers on BBC breakfast television this morning, lending his support to a programme which has just returned three rare black rhino born in captivity and raised in Kent, England to the wild in Tanzania.
The three rhino, raised by conservation charity the Aspinall Foundation, will be guarded full-time by armed guards to protect them from poachers. Rhino horn can fetch up to $60,000 per kilo on the black market.
Demand is driven by a market in Asia, where it is believed powdered rhino horn can cure ailments including cancers - despite no scientific evidence to back this up.
"Along with elephants, they're two of the most heavily poached animals currently in the world," Prince William, who is patron of the charity Tusk Trust, told the BBC. He said those who took part in the trade were "extremely ignorant, selfish and utterly wrong".
Poachers are killing more rhinos in Africa than ever before. 245 black rhino have been killed this year out of a remaining population of about 4,500. 13 black rhino were killed in South Africa in 2007, compared with 434 in 2011.
Prince William said: "There's a massive need for education on poaching... rhinos are very vulnerable animals and I think a lot of people don't realise what happens and how rhino horn, or ivory, ends up in a particular area.”
As he fed Zawadi, a five-year-old female now in Tanzania, Prince William explained that his love of rhino stemmed from his time helping to hand rear them at a friend's reserve in Kenya. Max, one of the rhino he helped rear, was killed just this year by poachers in an act he described as a "complete waste".
"Sadly he ran into the wrong people and he is now on someone's mantelpiece somewhere probably," he said.