Prince William Honors 'Exceptional' Hero in the Fight Against Poachers in Africa

Prince William Honors 'Exceptional' Hero in the Fight Against Poachers in Africa
Prince William
Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty

07/31/2015 AT 11:55 AM EDT

Africa has always held a special place in Prince William's heart. He has called it his "second home," proposed to wife Princess Kate there and shared his passion for wildlife with his children – Prince George's nursery is African-themed.

Now, he's shining a spotlight on a Kenyan ranger for his a tremendous impact in the fight against poachers in Africa. The award comes during a week that has seen the tragic death of Cecil the lion, which has sparked outrage around the world.

The commited conservationist, 33, has announced that Edward Ndiritu, Head of the Anti-Poaching Unit for the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, is the first winner of the Wildlife Ranger Award on behalf of William's conservation charity, Tusk Trust.

"May I take the opportunity to personally congratulate you on this richly deserved award and to thank you for the extraordinary contribution you and your team at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy have made towards both the protection of wildlife and increased security for the rural communities of northern Kenya," William said in a letter released Friday – World Ranger day.



Ndiritu, 42, who was pictured with the letter in Kenya, was chosen for his "outstanding leadership and commitment in face of the escalating threat from poachers," Tusk said.

Prince William Honors 'Exceptional' Hero in the Fight Against Poachers in Africa| The British Royals, The Royals, Prince William

Edward Ndiritu holds his letter from Prince William

Courtesy Tusk Trust

He leads 83 rangers covering a 44,000 sq km conservation area of Kenya run by the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Rangelands Trust. And the impact they are having is impressive.

In recent years, there has been a fall in the number of rhino and elephants who have been poached in the Northern Rangelands Trust.

Ndiritu has had paramilitary training and even coaching by former British special forces. He and his team are "beacons of hope for bucking the trend in poaching," says a Tusk Trust spokesman. They have not only helped "reduce poaching, but we are seeing an increase in elephant and rhino populations."

Charlie Mayhew MBE, Tusk's co-founder and CEO, said in a statement, "Edward is an exceptional man, whose professionalism and dedication has earned him huge respect not only amongst his team but across the wider conservation community in Kenya."

Prince William Honors 'Exceptional' Hero in the Fight Against Poachers in Africa| The British Royals, The Royals, Prince William

Courtesy Tusk Trust

Ndiritu will head to London in November to receive his award in person at the Tusk Conservation Awards.

The issue has long been an important one for William. Since 2005, he's been a patron of the Tusk Trust, a charity dedicated to "funding conservation, community development and environmental education programs across Africa." It's one of the first charities he chose to lend his support to, following in the steps of his father and grandfather before him.

"Africa is my second home," William said in footage filmed for a Sky1 documentary in 2010. "When I step off the plane I'm like, 'Yes, I'm back.' "

His brother, Prince Harry, also shares in his passion for protecting wildlife in Africa. The royal, 30, arrived in the country last month to begin work in Namibia, where he is helping to combat threats to the endangered species.

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