Akaroese, nine, Trumps Prince Harry with his presidential ambition


Ambition often starts at a young age and one young Caribbean boy left Prince Harry laughing when he declared he did not want to be a wildlife conservationist like his dad - but president of the United States.

When Harry met a group of youngsters from St Vincent and the Grenadines, helping to preserve the leatherback turtles that breed on their beaches, he was eager to find out more about them.

Among them was Akaroese Adams, aged nine, from St Vincent's Union Island whose father Roseman Adams is a leading protector of the endangered marine animals that come ashore to lay their eggs.

Standing on the black sand of Colonarie beach Harry asked the young school boy: "Do you want to be a conservationist when you grow up? and he replied "No I want to be president".

When the Prince questioned him further asking "What here?" the response made him laugh: "No, in America."

St Vincent's prime minister for the last 16 years, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, leader of the country's ruling Unity Labour Party, joined Harry for the visit.

Comrade Ralph, as he is affectionately known, was instrumental in persuading the Prince to visit the turtle conservation project at Colonarie beach in his home village and constituency, to publicise his government's decision to make hunting and eating sea turtles illegal from January 1 next year.

Rock star Bryan Adams has been a central figure in the fight to save the leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles of Colonarie beach.

Adams, who has a house in Mustique and citizenship of St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as his native Canada, helped set up the St Vincent and the Grenadines Preservation Fund, which gave a grant to the National Parks Authority to create a turtle conservation project.

He was not, however, at the event on Saturday.

Harry, who has already visited one turtle conservation project on the island of Nevis during his 15-day tour, praised St Vincent and the Grenadines for being the first nation in the region to bring in a total ban on hunting turtles for their meat.

Even since turtles have become endangered in the Caribbean, nations have allowed coastal communities to carry on hunting turtles for one month each year when they are most numerous.

But from January that will no longer be the case in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a group of islands that includes Mustique, the favourite haunt of royals and the Middleton family.

Harry said passing the law was the easy bit while persuading fishermen, poachers and others to adhere to it was harder, but he welcomed the initiative.

He unveiled a monument declaring the black volcanic sand beach of Colonarie on St Vincent's Atlantic coast a protected turtle nesting habitat.

Gideon Nash, chairman of the country's 14 national park areas, said the beach, which is home to leatherback and hawksbill turtles in the breeding season, would soon also be named a national park.

Harry played with Gideon's two-year-old son, Jyasi Junior Nash, who was wearing a T-shirt with pictures of turtles on it.

"Prince, Prince," the little boy shouted and Harry replied "I like your T-shirt".

Earlier, the Prince handed out awards to children who had taken part in an arts competition on the theme of saving endangered turtles.

One prizewinner, to laughter from the crowd, had drawn a portrait of Harry with big round head, a crop of ginger hair and a ginger beard.

"Firstly, thank you very much for my drawing. It's just like looking in a mirror," Harry said to laughter.