Prince William is facing criticism for his comments linking the human population of Africa to pressure on wildlife, with some people accusing him of racism, hypocrisy and privilege. The Duke of Cambridge gave a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards calling for the natural world to be protected from the impact of human beings, but his comments sparked a backlash on Twitter.
"The increasing pressure on Africa's wildlife and wild spaces as a result of human population presents a huge challenge for conservationists, as it does the world over," William, 39, said Monday at the ceremony, where he handed out prizes to leading conservationists from African nations. "But it is imperative that the natural world is protected not only for its contribution to our economies, jobs and livelihoods, but for the health, well-being and future of humanity. We owe it to our children and future generations to act now."
He added that "Africa's extraordinarily rich biodiversity has the ability to sequester vast amounts of carbon. But this is only possible if these landscapes remain truly intact and are protected as functioning ecosystems." He continued, saying that wildlife plays a "vital role" in "keeping nature in balance."
He did not specifically mention population growth, but his comments were condemned by many on Twitter as an attack on the Black population by a figurehead from an institution with a history of colonialism. Political commentator Michael Knowles said, "'If the natives keep reproducing, there won't be as many impalas for me to shoot!' Morally backward as this line of thinking is, one cannot help but be amused by the audacity."
Franklin Leonard, a movie executive and founder of the Black List, wrote, tweeted, "'There are too many Africans' is quite the position." Love in Color author Bolu Babaloa wrote, "lol he is so hateful it's actually funny."
Human rights organization Survival International tweeted a video of Kenyan ecologist Mordecai Ogada saying, "The fact is, if we look at absolute figures, Africa is more sparsely populated than Europe or Asia, and the fact is the absolute numbers of people in Africa are far from being a problem for our environment. More so for the very light footprint of the people here." He added, "The average western family of five will have a carbon footprint of a few hundred Maasai tribesman in Kenya."