PRINCE William was last night said to be furious and “very upset” after poachers killed a friend’s beloved rhino.
Max, an endangered white rhinoceros, was shot by hunters who then hacked off his prized horn.
The six-year-old animal had been hand-reared by Ian Craig, owner of the Lewa wildlife reserve in Kenya and father of the prince’s old flame Jecca.
Wills, 29, spent weeks helping the conservation project in 2001, and met Max on later visits to Africa.
He was so moved by Mr Craig’s work with rhinos that he became patron of the Tusk Trust charity.
Max, featured in TV documentary Last Chance To See, was shot 17 times.
Rangers had already removed most of his horn in a bid to protect him from poachers, but Mr Craig said the little bit left was enough to attract them.
Rhino horn sells for £40,000 a kilo in Asia, where it is wrongly believed to cure cancer.
William’s spokesman said: “The Duke is appalled by the senseless slaughter. He is very upset by the poaching, and Tusk are keeping him updated.”