The Duke of Cambridge spoke about the need to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade and prevent future zoonotic disease pandemics on Wednesday at a virtual meeting of the United for Wildlife Taskforces.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has ruined lives and threatened livelihoods across the world. No country is immune. Sadly, the conservation sector is suffering too. Crucial tourism revenue has largely dried up, and it will be many months, perhaps even years, before it recovers. Rangers’ salaries are at risk, and there are early indications that economic hardship may be leading more people to turn back to poaching,” William says in a short video narration.
William joined in the discussion “on the urgent need to end the illegal wildlife trade, the impact of COVID-19 on conservation and the links between zoonotic diseases and the wildlife trade, a statement on the United for Wildlife website.
The Duke continued: “Yet, as we continue to face up to the ongoing shock of this crisis, there is a notable opportunity for those of us committed to ending the illegal wildlife trade. Never before have the public health risks of the wildlife trade come into such sharp focus. Never before has there been greater public awareness about the dangers of zoonotic diseases like Ebola, SARS, MERS, and COVID. And never before has the global incentive to act been so high.
“Right now, there is a real chance to ensure that the urgent steps that the world must take to prevent future zoonotic disease pandemics are designed in a way that also helps to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade.
“This will require concerted effort and teamwork from international organisations, governments, law enforcement, the NGO community and the private sector. United for Wildlife, and all of you as Taskforce members, have a crucial role to play.”
At the Taskforce meetings, Prince William also spoke about the evidence of increasing illegal wildlife trafficking in Uganda, with 367 poaching incidents recorded in the parks of The Uganda Wildlife Authority between February and May, a number that has more than doubled over last year.