William would ‘love’ to see mountain gorillas in the wild

The Prince of Wales said he would “love” to see mountain gorillas in the wild one day because it is the “one thing” he has not yet done.

William was speaking at a symposium of Tusk Conservation Award winners and said he “loves” the annual event as it brings together a “wonderful body of people and organisations” to further encourage conservation efforts across Africa.

The charity’s patron met an array of judges, alumni and conservation experts at St James’s Palace on Wednesday, following an awards event on Tuesday evening to reveal the winners.

The symposium was arranged to offer the opportunity for Africa’s conservationists to share their collective experience, knowledge and expertise to motivate greater innovation and collaboration across the continent.

The Prince of Wales attends an event as part of the Royal Africa Society’s biennial film festival, Film Africa, at The Garden Cinema, London
The Prince of Wales attends an event as part of the Royal Africa Society’s biennial film festival, Film Africa, at The Garden Cinema, London (Tim P. Whitby/PA)

William made his way around the room, speaking to many people, accompanied by Charles Mayhew MBE, Tusk’s chief executive.

He said in conversation: “I love Tusk and every time I come to these events and meet more and more people and I see the alumni, it reminds you of just what a wonderful body of people and organisations that Tusk bring together.”

When asked what he thinks of the winners this year by a group of judges, William spoke about one of the finalists, David Daballen, from Kenya, and said: “He speaks so eloquently. You go in any community and he will charm everyone. So, I’ve got a big sort of soft spot for David.”

Mr Daballen is the director of field operations at Save The Elephants, and over the past 20 years he has been involved in over 100 collaring operations to track their movements.

William then met Dr Gladys Kalema, CEO of Conservation Through Public Health in Uganda and a finalist of the 2019 Tusk award, who said to him: “Hopefully we can take you to see the gorillas.”

The Prince of Wales listens during a symposium with Tusk Conversation Awards winners at St James’s Palace in London
The Prince of Wales listens during a symposium with Tusk Conversation Awards winners at St James’s Palace in London (Alastair Grant/PA)

Referring to Mr Mayhew as Charlie, William responded: “Yes, Charlie goes on and on about the gorillas. I would love to see the gorillas one day.

“It’s sort of the one thing I haven’t been able to do yet, so I’m really keen.”

During the awards ceremony, William urged the world not to be distracted by “turbulent times” and lose sight of the importance of protecting the natural world.

Among the winners was Ian Craig, the father of Jecca Craig, rumoured to have dated William, who was a joint recipient of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, a lifetime achievement honour.