Prince William's close friend killed in Kenya plane crash

Mark Jenkins, a ranger, was killed when his light aircraft crashed as he tried to drive cows, camels and goats out of Tsavo National Park. His son, Peter, was a warden
Mark Jenkins, a ranger, was killed when his light aircraft crashed as he tried to drive cows, camels and goats out of Tsavo National Park. His son, Peter, was a warden

The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to a “close friend” who was killed, alongside his son, in a plane crash in Kenya.

Mark Jenkins, a ranger, was killed when his light aircraft crashed as he tried to drive cows, camels and goats out of Tsavo National Park. His son, Peter, was a warden.

The Prince is understood to have found out about the tragedy as he attempted to process the fallout from the release of the Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary.

In a personal tweet from the Kensington Royal account, he wrote:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

He added: "Tonight, I’m thinking about Mark’s wife, family and colleagues who’ve sadly lost a man we all loved and admired. W"

The Prince first met Mr Jenkins on his gap year in 2001, when he spent three-and-a-half months in Africa, enjoying time on safari but also learning about game conservation, wildlife and the environment.

The pair struck up a friendship and had met a number of times since, with Mr Jenkins following the Prince's work with the Tusk Trust.

William is a keen conservationist and spent a huge amount of time in Africa. He is patron of the Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation charity, and founded United for Wildlife, which aims to protect endangered species from the illegal wildlife trade.

He proposed to the then-Kate Middleton in Kenya in 2010.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) paid tribute to Mr Jenkins, who they described as a "lifelong conservationist and experienced bush pilot".

'Passionate, principled, and strong-willed'

It said he was killed while conducting an aerial patrol for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an NGO.

“Passionate, principled, and strong-willed, Mark was never afraid to speak his mind and stand for what he believed in,” it said.

“He was a commanding presence and made an indelible impression wherever he went.”

Mr Jenkins worked as a project leader for the FZS since 2014, first at Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, and then at the Serengeti National Park until 2016.

He helped develop the Serengeti National Park's aviation team by buying two Aviat Husky planes which were "dedicated to anti-poaching and surveillance".

The son of a game warden who worked for the Kenya Wildlife Service, he is said to have grown up in Meru National Park.

'Devoted' husband and father.

He was described as a "devoted" husband and father. He leaves behind a wife and another son.

The FZS expressed its condolences to his family and said they would miss "his warmth, hilarious stories and irreverent comments".

The area where Mr Jenkins and his son were killed had been invaded by herders with their animals for pasture, causing conflict between authorities and the herders, according to a local newspaper.

Coast regional police officer Titus Karuri said experts were investigating the accident.

"Kenya Wildlife Service wishes to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased,” he said.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program in Kenya.

The park is almost 22,000 square kilometres - the largest national park in Kenya - and one of the biggest in the world.

In 2014, Prince William, through United for Wildlife, was involved in a scheme, tested at Tsavo National Park in Kenya that deployed secret surveillance cameras around many of the world's last great wildernesses in the hope of catching poachers.

On Wednesday, the Prince shared his condolences about an African wildlife ranger killed by armed poachers and called for the “perpetrators to be brought to justice”.

He said his thoughts were with Charles Okawa’s loved ones, after the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger was shot dead while on duty in Kidepo Valley Conservation Area.

Signing off with the letter 'W', to indicate the personal nature of the post, he added “these senseless killings must be stopped.”