Prince Harry's ten-year military career ended on Friday as he announced plans to spend three months on the "front line" of wildlife conservation in Africa.

The 30-year-old will leave Britain next week to begin a tour of duty in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana, where he will concentrate on protecting rhinos and elephants.

Kensington Palace said that wherever possible he would be "fully embedded" with conservation staff including park rangers, working the same shift patterns and living in the same accommodation.

The Prince has a lifelong love of Africa and its wildlife, and will be following in the footsteps of his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, who has made numerous trips there as patron of the Tusk Trust charity, and who proposed to the Duchess of Cambridge in Kenya.

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Although Prince Harry's last official working day was Friday, he has spent the week carrying out official royal duties and was on leave, meaning he had already said his goodbyes to his comrades.

He will, however, have an official farewell meeting with his Commanding Officer when he returns from Africa.

The Prince has worked with conservation experts from several organisations, including the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), to design a programme that will give him first-hand experience of the challenges faced by those working to protect wildlife and local communities in Africa.

A spokesman for Kensington Palace said he would learn about environmental education programmes and the importance of linking the future of wildlife with the sustainable development of the communities alongside it. "Additionally, Prince Harry will spend time working with experts at the sharp end of wildlife protection. He will join a team of rangers who are the first to respond to reports of poaching attacks on elephants and rhino," the spokesman said.

The Prince will also work with leading vets who treat animals that have survived the removal of their tusks and other brutal attacks.

Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes at ZSL, said that Prince Harry's work would have real value for the global conservation movement.

He said: "After this period, Prince Harry will be one of the best-informed ambassadors for the conservation community on what is really happening on the ground in Africa. His experience will be of great value."

The Prince will officially remain a member of Britain's Armed Forces for life, but will no longer be paid by the Army or carry out duties.