The Duke of Cambridge awards conservationists who work in the 'remotest and harshest environments on the continent'
The Duke of Cambridge has honoured leading conservationists who have dedicated their lives to protecting Africa's wildlife and its unique habitat.
At a glittering awards ceremony, the Prince presented two campaigners with trophies and substantial grants in recognition of their outstanding efforts.
The Duke is royal patron of the animal conservation charity Tusk Trust, which is behind the awards.
In a speech at the presentation ceremony, he said: "The people we celebrate tonight, the nominees and all those they represent, work in some of the remotest and harshest environments on the continent.
"They regularly put their own lives at risk for the sake of conserving some of Africa's rarest and most treasured species. Their unquestioning, selfless dedication to the cause is humbling, and I pay tribute to all of you.
''The work of this year's finalists serves to illustrate some of our greatest conservation challenges: dramatic loss of lion; poaching of elephant and rhino; deforestation and the critical need for community involvement.''
There was loud applause when Richard Bonham received the lifetime achievement honour - the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa - from the Duke at the event staged at London's Claridge's hotel.
He was honoured for his lifetime contribution to safeguarding the wildlife and the Maasai community in Kenya.
The winner of the Tusk Conservation Award was Herizo Andrianandrasana, an activist from Madagascar who has been the driving force behind getting local people involved in conservation management in his homeland.
The Duke went on to highlight the problems facing some of the iconic animals in Africa.
He said: ''Africa's elephant population has crashed from 1.3 million in 1979 to approximately just 400,000 today. South Africa is currently losing more than three rhino a day to feed demand for rhino horn. The African lion is now estimated to be fewer than 25,000, and of course there are numerous lesser known species facing similar or worse fates.''
He announced that a new award would be presented from next year recognising rangers, the people on the ground tackling the poachers: ''These are the men and women at the frontline of the battle - and it is a battle - to save some of the world's most iconic species.
''The Rangers face grave danger every day, not only in the form of wild cats or charging elephants, but heavily armed poachers who are just as prepared to shoot and kill them, as they are the animals they hunt.''
Among the guests at the black-tie awards ceremony was comic Rory Bremner and wildlife photographer Simon King.
Mr Andrianandrasana said that the ''slash and burning'' of forests and illegal logging was destroying 60,000 hectares a year in his homeland. He said his country struggled with managing the large biodiversity in Madagascar.
He said: ''I think the award will be an important tool for international lobbying, a means to push the government to improve the management (of the wildlife) in the country and the law enforcement.''
''What the local people need is improvement and support and policy from the top. If we can improve the law enforcement I feel we can improve the management of the land.''
Mr Bonham has spent his life in his homeland of Kenya working to change perceptions in the tourist industry and show how eco-tourism could combine wildlife conservation and community development.
He is also the co-founder of the Big Life Foundation which aims to protect the wildlife and habitat of east Africa.
The conservationist said: ''Recognition is always an amazing thing especially when you're persevering for years and sometimes think you're not achieving anything.
''The most important thing is raising awareness to what you're doing.''