Prince William is setting the bar for sons-in-law everywhere.
The royal brought his in-laws, Carole and Michael Middleton, to the Tusk Conservation Awards in London on Wednesday evening, yet another sign that the Middletons enjoy an unprecedented position within the modern royal family.
Tusk was one of the first causes adopted by William when he started his public life. He used the gala to pay tribute to Roger Gower, a British helicopter pilot who was killed during an anti-poaching operation in January.
“The war being fought against poachers is brutal, with so many men and women dying to protect their communities’ natural heritage,” William said. “A very human tragedy, all too clearly brought home to me tonight when I met the family of Roger Gower, who tragically lost his life in Tanzania this year.”
As in previous years, the prince handed out awards to some of the most courageous figures in the world of conservation, including a wildlife ranger who nearly lost his leg in a poacher’s trap.
This year, he did so alongside veteran wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, who — like William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth — turned 90 this year.
One winner, Manuel Sacaia of Angola, was praised by Attenborough for “his fearless dedication to protecting the critically endangered giant sable antelope from extinction.”
Charlie Mayhew, the chief executive of Tusk Trust, said of Sacaia, “He is the most humble guy imaginable, who is passionate about saving one of Africa’s rarest species. There are only a handful of these animals left. He survived all the way through Angolan civil war, and afterwards was the only one who knew where the giant sables were.”
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“Last year he got caught in a poacher’s gin trap and nearly lost his leg.”
Sacaia, 62, who has been fighting to protect the giant sable since he was 15, said he was only saved because he was with two colleagues who cut a branch from a tree and used it to open the trap.
During the award ceremony, William presented Attenborough — whose series Planet Earth II is currently being shown on BBC1 — with a silver platter for his “immense contribution” to conservation and said he was “someone who has literally gone to the ends of the earth to showcase the beauty of our planet’s wildlife and the critical need for us to preserve it.”
Also among the well-known guests at the ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum were Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, explorer and TV host Bear Grylls, singer Katherine Jenkins and British businesswoman and TV host Deborah Meaden.
The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa was given to Cathy Dreyer from South Africa, for her work in protecting the black rhino. The Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa was presented by him to John Kahekwa from the Democratic Republic of Congo for his work helping the Grauer’s gorilla within the Congo’s war zones.
Praising all the winners, William said their “work is dangerous but vitally important – and we are immensely grateful for it,” and added, “Let’s remember that the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth biggest illegal trade in the world after drugs, weapons and human slavery.”