The 30-year-old royal is seen in an up-close encounter during his conservation work in Africa

By Michelle Tauber
September 02, 2015 10:25 AM
Simson Uri-Khop/Mail on Sunday/SOLO

Prince Harry, meet the King of the Jungle.

He has already gotten up close with rhinos and hippos during his "dream job" in Africa, and in his latest conservation work, the 30-year-old royal assisted wildlife veterinarians in the checkup of a massive male lion.

The extraordinary encounter took place in a remote corner of a reserve in Namibia, where Harry has been partnering with Save the Rhino Trust and other conservation efforts to promote animal welfare in Africa.

In the arresting photo, Harry can be seen with his hands on the sedated lion’s flanks as he checks the animal’s breathing and vitals in the darkness of the African wild.

The encounter came as Harry wraps his three-month summer stint in Africa, where he previously assisted with de-horning endangered black rhinos as part of an anti-poaching strategy.

Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia’s Minister for Environment and Tourism, told PEOPLE he was grateful to Harry for “airing his voice about conservation in the world. In southern Africa, we have the largest population of wildlife today, especially the high value species. His contribution is highly appreciated.”

Since wrapping his decade-long service in the Army in June, Harry has focused on championing the two issues closest to his heart: conservationism and veterans’ causes.

Travel pioneer and Safari author Geoffrey Kent, who took Harry on a formative trip to Africa just weeks after the death of Princess Diana, recently told PEOPLE of his admiration for the young royal: “He has developed a lifelong passion for Africa, and that passion has developed into leadership.”

With his time on the continent drawing to a close, Harry is expected to return home to London as early as this weekend – and he may join his brother Prince William, sister-in-law Princess Kate and niece and nephew George and Charlotte as they celebrate the record-breaking reign of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, on September 9 in Scotland.

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