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November 26, 2014 04:25 PM

Before Prince William and Princess Kate tackle the concrete jungle of New York City in December, the prince focused on the plight of wildlife in the African jungles.

“Rangers face grave danger every day,” longtime wildlife champion William said Tuesday night while speaking at the annual Tusk Conservation awards in London. “We live in a sorry world when an elephant requires the sacrifice of a human being for its own survival.”

The prince, 32, highlighted the growing battle brave wildlife rangers face as rhino horn and ivory continue to be the magnet for ruthless poachers and heavily armed criminal gangs in Africa.

“These are the men and women at the frontline of the battle to save some of the world’s most iconic species,” he said, noting that more than 1,000 rangers have “given their lives in the name of conservation” over the past 10 years.

As a result, William said he plans to introduce a new award in 2015 to recognize the “bravery and commitment of wildlife rangers.”

This past year, William has worked to raise the issue of wildlife crime, and it will be a central topic during his and Kate’s visit to New York and Washington, D.C., next month to promote their favorite charities.

He has set up an umbrella campaign, United for Wildlife, in which he named David Beckham as an ambassador.

The prince also teamed up with Angry Birds on an app to raise awareness about the evils of poaching by reaching a younger, worldwide audience.

At the event, William told a compelling story about his and brother Prince Harry‘s visit to Botswana four years ago, where they found little or no wildlife.

“All I encountered was an empty crisp packet left by a tourist and a blip on a radar showing that out there, somewhere, was a lion,” he said. “That morning’s outing did at least highlight, quite starkly, how empty even the beautiful African landscape would look without its inhabitants. As I’ve said before, time is running out.”

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