The Duke of Cambridge has given an impassioned speech to end the illegal wildlife trade which threatens the elephant and rhino once and for all. The Duke is President of United for Wildlife. During his Time For Change speech, held at The Shard, and sponsored by the Tusk Trust, the Duke summarized the progress made in the past three years in conserving the world’s wildlife. He stressed however, there is still much work to be done.
One significant statistic he provided was how quickly elephants could become extinct from the world’s savannas.
Prince William said: “When I was born, there were 1 million elephants roaming Africa. By the time my daughter Charlotte was born last year, the numbers of Savanna elephants had crashed to just 350,000. And at the current pace of illegal poaching, when Charlotte turns 25 the African elephant will be gone from the wild.”
William stated that by not only destroying the world’s wildlife, poachers and traffickers are also ridding some of the world’s poorest cultures of their natural resources; families suffer when two rangers are killed each week protecting these animals. And, the structures of political governments suffer when corruption and violence threaten these ‘fragile’ democratic systems as they continue to ‘fuel’ the illegal wildlife trade.
During this time of violence and upheaval, the Duke did offer a sense of hope: “I fear we will not know what we have lost until it has gone. But there is hope – we can do something. There is huge momentum building from governments, businesses, conservationists, and the public to take the steps required to stop the killing.”
In 2014, the Prince mentioned how by the end of the first international conference, governments were serious about dedicating time and resources in ending illegal poaching and trading of wildlife products. The Elephant Protection Initiative has fourteen member countries, who on their own, have taken concerted effort to preserve wildlife. Last year, the United States and China were the first to ban the domestic trading of ivory. And in China, a huge effort was made to recover the number of pandas in that country. Lord Hague, acting through the Buckingham Palace Declaration, also took steps to address the role of the Transportation Industry in this problem. Finally last week, there was an overwhelming vote at the IUCN World Conservation Congress for governments to shut down their domestic ivory markets for good.
Along with providing the news about the progress made thus far, the Duke also had advice for governments for continuing their efforts. He said: “We have the opportunity to end, once and for all, the mixed messages we have sent for too long about the value and desirability of wildlife products. We have the chance to say that ivory is a symbol of destruction, not of luxury and not something that anyone needs to buy or sell. We have the chance to say that rhino horn does not cure anything and does not need a legal market. Now is the chance to send an unambiguous message to the world that it is no longer acceptable to buy and sell ivory, rhino horn or other illegal wildlife products.”
William was adiment that it doesn’t matter where you live in the world. You can still help to conserve wildlife: “Wherever we are in the world, we must all play our part.” It will take everyone coming together, to stand against the illegal trading and useless slaughtering of these animals.To urge those who purchase ivory to end that horrible practise.
To save what’s left of the world’s wildlife, the Duke called for clarity in both communication and action. He said: “A tightening and not a loosening of the rules around the international trade in ivory and rhino horn. Mixed messages about the viability of trade in elephant or rhino parts would surely serve only to confuse would be consumers at this crucial time. We cannot undo the mistakes of the past. But we can and must take moral responsibility for the decisions we make today.
“Please let us not lose momentum or focus. If we are to succeed, we must do more; we must do it faster; and we must do it better. But most importantly, we must do it together.”
During his speech, the Duke of Cambridge revealed he will attend the third International Wildlife Trade Conference this year, which will be held in Vietnam.. The conference is to take place from 17-18 November in Hanoi; and will mark the second-in-line to the throne’s first time visiting the South East Asian country.
Stay tuned to Royal Central for updates about the Duke’s trip to Vietnam. If you’d like to read his speech in full, you can do so by clicking here: