Britain's Prince William honours Africa conservationists

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (4-L) with Tusk Conservation Awards finalists (L-R) Dr Emmanuel de Merode, Dr Margaret Jacobson, Edward Ndiritu, Garth Owen Smith, Cosmas Mumba and Mary Molokwu in London on November 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Stefan Rousseau)

London (AFP) - Britain's Prince William on Tuesday honoured three conservationists for their work in Africa, including the director of one of the continent's oldest national parks who survived a gun attack.

Emmanuel de Merode, hailed for his work protecting endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife during conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park, was given the Tusk Conservation Award.

Merode was shot last year in the chest and abdomen by unidentified gunmen. The park he oversees is criss-crossed by rival armed groups and soldiers and coveted by loggers, poachers and oil firms.

The other winners were Garth Owen-Smith, who was given a lifetime achievement award for his community-driven work in Namibia, and Kenyan Edward Ndiritu, who was given the inaugural Wildlife Ranger award for his bravery confronting poachers.

"Without people like Garth, Emmanuel and Edward -- the true unsung heroes of conservation in Africa -- we would be facing a very dire situation indeed," said Prince William, who is a patron of the Tusk conservation charity.