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Prince Harry's Moving Photos From Africa Trip Show Brutal Reality of Poaching

Prince Harry's Moving Photos From Africa Trip Show Brutal Reality of Poaching

Prince Harry has released personal photographs from his three months working as a wildlife conservation volunteer in Africa this summer. The 31-year-old is visibly moved in many of the photos, such as this one where he's face down and stretched across a majestic elephant.

"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," the Prince Harry said about the photo.

"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? Seeing huge carcasses of rhinos and elephants scattered across Africa, with their horns and tusks missing is a pointless waste of beauty."

Prince Harry worked right alongside rangers responding poaching attacks, according to The Guardian. His pictures are from Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

He said that Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, "is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But in recent years it has become a major killing field.”

"Many people will have heard of Hope, a young female black rhino that was brutally wounded by poachers," Harry, the fifth in line to the British throne, says about the photo above. "This was the second operation to try to save this animal’s life.

"Some poachers use a dart gun and tranquilize the animal so as not have to fire a shot that would be heard. They then hack their face off while the animal is paralysed. 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."

"In recent years Kruger has also become a major killing field," Prince Harry said in a speech with Sky News.

"The numbers of rhinos poached in South Africa has grown by nearly 500 percent in just five years, with most of these occurring in Kruger," he continued. "Already this year 1,500 rhinos have been killed in this country. That is four every day."

He said that if current poaching rates continue there will be no wild African elephants or rhinos left by the time children born this year—like his niece, Charlotte (who is 7 months old)—turn 25.

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Prince Harry also released videos of the trip. In this touching clip, he feeds an orphaned baby rhino from a milk bottle and gives it a kiss.

"These baby rhinos are at an orphanage because their mothers were killed by poachers. I can’t say where this is for obvious reasons," he said.

"But I spent an afternoon with Petronel Nieuwoubt who runs the orphanage. The youngest rhino was called Don. He was just two months old when he was found in Kruger National Park. Petronel has students and volunteers from all over the world come to look after these orphans. They pay for this experience and that money is used for milk, food, fencing and rangers for security."

Harry revealed some other details of his work on the field and with the animals. In this photo, he's holding oxygen tubes as he tends to a dehorned rhino.

"I was working with Dr. Mark Jago and Dr. Pete Morkel in Namibia. Some countries are de-horning small populations of rhino to deter poachers from shooting them," he says about the photo.

"It is a short-term solution and surely no substitute for professional and well-trained rangers protecting these highly sought-after animals. De-horning has to be done every two years for it to be effective and can only realistically be done with small populations in open bush.

"My initial task each time was to monitor the heart rate and oxygen levels and help stabilise them as quickly as possible. My responsibilities then grew to taking blood and tissue samples and the de-horning itself."

"His photographs and videos highlight the urgent challenges faced by people on the ground working to protect Africa's most endangered animals," a statement from Kensington Palace reads.

Check out other videos and photos from Prince Harry's trip.

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Ever the ecologically minded royal family, Harry's brother, Prince William, is also outspoken on the illegal wildlife trade.

On Monday, Harry's father, Prince Charles, delivered the keynote speech at the opening session of COP21 climate talks on Monday.

"So I can only urge you to think of your grandchildren, as I think of mine, and of those billions of people without a voice; those for whom hope is the rarest of sensations; those for whom a secure life is a distant prospect," the Prince of Wales, who has long been an advocate climate change action, said in his speech.

"Most of all, I urge you to consider the needs of the youngest generation, because none of us has the right to assume that "for our today they should give up their tomorrow."

Watch his speech below:

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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