A video of Prince William’s visit to wildlife conservation projects in Tanzania is being criticized for its lack of African voices and promoting a “white saviour” mentality.
The video, shown at a conference on illegal wildlife trade in London this week, focuses on conservation efforts in Dar es Salaam Port and at Mkomazi National Park. In the film, which promotes the Duke Of Cambridge’s efforts, includes a single black person speaking to the camera in a discussion about William’s leadership qualities. Conservationists have since called the film out for promoting damaging messaging.
“The message that goes out now is that African wildlife is in danger, and the source of the danger is black people, and that people from the US [and elsewhere] have to come and save wildlife from these black people,” Dr. Mordecai Ogada, director of Conservation Solutions Afrika, tells The Guardian.
In the video, Prince William visits projects by United for Wildlife, of which he is a supporter, and Tusk Trust, an organization of which he is a patron. Both William and Prince Harry were present during the London conference and are longtime supporters of conservation work on the African continent.
Calling the video’s message “outdated,” Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International, says local experts are seen as anything but.
“Non-Africans are presented in the film as the real experts on conservation, while the locals are not seen as having anything worthwhile to contribute other than their grateful thanks,” Corry says. “It is the local people who understand their environment and its wildlife better than anybody else, and the conservation movement should not only listen to them but take its lead from them.”
“Conservation even now, nearly 55 years after Kenya got independence, is still the one arena where Prince William can waltz into Kenya and tell us he wants us to do this, that, or the other,” Dr. Ogada adds. “He couldn’t do that in education, banking, or other fields, but conservation still has that romantic, ‘Out of Africa’ feel about it.”
Recognizing the conservation efforts in Tanzania, the Duke Of Cambridge says, “Poaching is an economic crime against ordinary people and their futures. It is heartbreaking to think that by the time my children, George, Charlotte and Louis, are in their 20s, elephants, rhinos and tigers might well be extinct in the wild.”
Neither Prince William nor Kensington Palace has commented on the reaction to the video.