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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 August, 2003, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
William 'kills antelope'
Prince William with African band
William with the Botswana band who played at his 21st party
Prince William has killed a tiny antelope on holiday in Kenya with a 7ft spear, according to reports.

The story in the Mail on Sunday is likely to reopen the debate about the Royal Family and their participation in blood sports.

The prince had been taking lessons in hunting from a Masai warrior when he took a shot at a dik-dik, a 14 inch (35 cm) high antelope.

Legei, the tribal village's Masai leader, told the newspaper that William experimented with the spear - made from acacia wood and fashioned with a metal tip - by targeting tree trunks in a village clearing.

He said: "Then we took him out hunting and he crept up like we do on the first prey he saw, a fully grown dik-dik.

I was proud of him - he picked it up by the tail and presented it to me
Masai leader

"Using the Masais' silent approach, he followed it, took aim and speared it in one go.

"I was proud of him. He picked it up by the tail and presented it to me. At home we eat such animals but I don't think Prince William would even consider it."

William is no stranger to blood sports having attended an English fox hunt with his father in the past.

A St James's Palace spokesman was unable to comment on the Kenyan report.

However, according to the Press Association, Royal sources have cast doubt on the truth of the story.

Africa love affair

Animal rights activists reacted angrily to the suggestion the prince had killed the antelope for sport.

"One's first thought is why would somebody feel the need to kill an animal while on holiday, and why do it in a way which has a very high chance of being quite inhumane?" said Jonathan Owen, spokesman for the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Spearing an animal is a crude way of killing it
Jonathan Owen
World Society for the Protection of Animals

"Spearing an animal is a crude way of killing it, and not guaranteed to kill the animal quickly, if someone is not an expert spearman.

"We have hundreds of thousands of members and when they go on holiday they like to watch animals in the wild, not try to take them out of circulation."

The 21-year-old prince is spending a month in East Africa with friends and is apparently learning a variety of tribal skills, including cattle ranching.

He has in the past expressed his love of the African continent.

He spent part of his gap year in 2001 on a Kenyan wildlife reserve and has been learning Swahili.

Masai woman
William has been meeting members of the Masai tribe

The admission sparked speculation that he plans to return to Africa to work in conservation when he finishes university, instead of the traditional royal career in the armed forces.

He has also been romantically linked with the daughter of a wealthy Kenyan conservationist.

The prince was said to have become close to 21-year-old Jessica Craig and invited her to his 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.

However St James's Palace scotched the rumours, saying they were "just good friends".

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