Royal on a rhino mission: the heartbreaking reason Princess Charlene is back in SA

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Princess Charlene gets up close with a rhino in SA as part of a conservation initiatve. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
Princess Charlene gets up close with a rhino in SA as part of a conservation initiatve. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)

Sometimes pictures say more than words and these moving images of Her Serene Highness Charlene Wittstock of Monaco on a rhino dehorning expedition in South Africa speak volumes.

The 43-year-old Benoni-raised beauty is here as part of a wildlife conservation mission to prevent rhino poaching.

(PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
Charlene was miles away from the glamorous shores of Monaco as she got into the SA bush with the rangers. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
(PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
Charlene is a wildlife warrior who is passionate about a number of conservation projects in SA including the Waterberg Wild Dogs Conservation Project, of which she's the patron. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)

Rhino conservation is a cause very close to the royal’s heart, an insider says.

“It’s something she does as a personal passion project, and while it’s not formally part of her official foundation, the foundation does support it.”

Charlene, who’s believed to be in the country on her own to focus on her conservation work, expressed her concern for the rhino crisis that’s “stolen almost 10 000 African rhinos from our beautiful earth”.

“We cannot afford to lose anymore,” she says in a press statement.

"If we are to save these incredible animals from extinction, we have to do something."
Charlene Wittstock

The mom-of-two, sporting her edgy new short haircut, appeared emotional as she accompanied rangers who darted the animals from a helicopter before dehorning them.

The process of cutting off the horn is considered one of the most effective methods of deterring poachers. The former Olympic swimmer, who’ll miss the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix as she’ll be in South Africa, has thrown her support behind the cause.

(PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
SA's rhino population along with those of neighbours Namibia and Zimbabwe are under dire threat from poachers. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)

South Africa’s rhino population has fallen drastically in the past decade, with one rhino killed for its horn every 22 hours.

Rhino poaching is also rife in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Demand for rhino horn is mainly from Asia where it’s considered a sexual potency aid.

(PHOTO: Christian Sperka)
The wife of Monaco's Prince Albert appeared moved as she watched the rangers remove the animal's horn. (PHOTO: Christian Sperka)

“We have to protect our rhinos and their future by protecting and dehorning them as safely and as gently as possible,” Charlene says. “I’m passionate about playing a role in saving the rhino and championing their cause.”

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