Prince Harry may be a British royal, but he feels most at home at a location a little further south.
That place is Africa, a continent Harry has traveled to (and worked in) multiple times over the past 20 years. His first visit came just after his mother’s death in 1997, when his father, Prince Charles, took him and his brother, Prince William, to clear their heads after tragedy. Now, he makes the trek annually.
“My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags—we were going to Africa to get away from it all,” he told Town & Country in their February cover story. “My brother and I were brought up outdoors. We appreciate nature and everything about it. This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world.”
His most recent trip to Africa came this past August, when he visited Malawi to participate in the 500 Elephants relocation project with non-profit conservation group Africa Parks. Town & Country documented Harry’s time in Malawi over six days of his three week trip in the thick of the animals’ migration — one of the largest human-led relocations in history.
The 500 elephants and 2,000 other animals — a mixture of buffaloes, zebras, warthogs and others — were relocated from an area where they’re in high supply to another park, Nkhotakota, where the population has diminished due to poaching.
Harry became acquainted with African Parks in the summer of 2015, but this is his first time working with them on-site. The organization works not only with animal conservation, but with preserving Africa’s wildlife habitats — many of which cannot be sustained without a wildlife population.
“I completely fell in love with African Parks, because they get things done,” he said. “They make tough decisions, and they stick to principles.”
In the group, Harry is just one of the crew — people even address him as such, by his first name! He sleeps in the same tents, and wakes up with the sun like the rest of them.
“I love spending time with these guys,” he told T&C of the experience. “Night after night, chewing the fat around the fire, about the pros and cons of the legalization of rhino horn, or the historic migratory paths of elephants, or the population explosion on the African continent. And also conservation back home, which is hugely important.”
Harry’s passion for conservation isn’t the only thing that keeps him coming back to Africa. He says when he’s there, his mood shifts, his worries float away — in particular, due to the anonymity he’s able to have there.
“I wish I could spend more time in Africa,” he said. “I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here. To not get recognized, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down-to-earth people on the planet, people with no ulterior motives, no agendas, who would sacrifice everything for the betterment of nature… I talk to them about their jobs, about what they do. And I learn so much.”
And of course, he takes what he does in Africa and brings it back to Britian, too.
“I go home and bang the drum. So that we can all try to make a difference.”