Prince William sounds the battle cry over rhino killers
Prince William feeds a 5-year-old black rhino called Zawadi as he visits Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent on June 6, 2012. William visited the park to meet staff and rhinos involved in a translocation project. (Getty Images)
Fatherhood is just around the corner for Prince William, but it's the future of baby rhinos that is concerning him these days.
William, a long-time advocate for species conservation, has been "alarmed" over the latest round of illegal killings of black rhinos at a Kenyan sanctuary.
Over two weeks in December, five rhinos were the victims of poachers, who prize the animal's horn for its medicinal uses, especially in the Far East. Horns can sell for as much as $32,000 a pound.
"The Duke is concerned that action must be taken now to stem the tide before it is too late and these magnificent creatures become lost to the wild forever," said a Palace spokesman.
"Species conservation is something the Duke feels passionate about. He has been keeping a close eye on the poaching crisis, particularly involving Africa's rhinoceros and elephants, and is alarmed by the increase in the numbers being killed."
The Prince has had a relationship with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya since spending time in Africa as part of his gap year before university. Since then, William has become an outspoken critic of those who are trying to profit from the black rhinos.
In the past three years, 11 of the park's 126 rhinos have been gunned down, even though the reserve is heavily patrolled. The World Wildlife Fund says there were 593 rhinos killed last year in Africa.
Closer to home, the prince has a few other things on his mind as well ....
... Kate would be advised to stay away from her parents' place in Bucklebury for the next little while. The 2,100 residents of the village have been warned, along with other residents in the county of Berkshire, to stay indoors and keep windows closed as harmful smoke continues to spew from a fertilizer fire that began more than a month ago.
More than 1,000 tonnes of wood mulch and garden waste caught fire and the local fire authorities decided to let it burn itself out, rather than create even more clouds of smoke by making further attempts to extinguish it.
The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue has received more than two dozen complaints of breathing problems because of the smoke, not to mention the smell that has filled the air. It's expected to last several more weeks.
Which means ....
... Where will Kate spend her birthday?
The duchess turns 31 on Jan. 9 and it's expected to be a quiet, family affair. Right now, the expectant Kate is due to be in Bucklebury, even with the smelly air and the assurances that there are no health concerns from the fire.
"She'll just want to be with her family and enjoy her last birthday with Wills before there's a little one to look after," a source told Look magazine in the UK.
One report suggested that William's present for his 30-something wife will be a home away from London, a little something in the $8 million range in the countryside.
In the meantime, she'll just bask in the absence of having to fulfill royal duties. The relative quiet may not last that long ....
... Since Prince Harry is due back on English soil from Afghanistan.
The Daily Star tabloid reports that Harry's brother, Prince William, and Kate are planning a "massive bash" for the Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner.
No doubt Harry, 28, is about due for one after being, literally, under the gun with the UK troops fighting the Taliban. There are no all-out parties at Camp Bastion, where everyday can produce a deadly encountrer.
The prince's presence has clearly irritated the local war lords. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, labelled an Afghan terrorist by the U.S. State Department, said of Harry: "The British prince comes to Afghanistan to kill innocent Afghans while he is drunk."
Military officials shrugged off the barb, noting that troops are not allowed to drink alcohol while deployed on operations.
Yes, the Prince Harry stories will soon be running fast and furious.