HRH The Prince of Wales (President of WWF-UK) and HRH The Duke of Cambridge (Patron of Tusk Trust) hosted a high-profile international conference at St. James’s Palace on 21st May, in collaboration with the UK government, to focus world attention on the urgent battle to end illegal trade in wildlife.
Wildlife poaching is nothing new, but in recent years the scale has now reached new heights. The world is faced with an epidemic of poaching and trafficking of illegal wildlife products - driven by growing demand, in particular from south-east Asia.
The Prince of Wales and his elder son have decided to join forces to raise awareness of the fact that the illegal wildlife trade is a serious crime and is perhaps not widely known that it is often organised by the same international criminal networks involved in illicit arms or drug smuggling, money laundering, corruption and violence.
Wildlife losses have reached unsustainable levels - tens of thousands of animals in some places. This event will focus on three species, the elephant, rhino and tiger:
- Some African elephant populations face possible extinction within a decade because of ivory poaching.
- Both black and white rhino are under unprecedented attack for their horn for use in medicine, despite it having no proven medicinal qualities.
- Wild tigers numbers across Asia have decreased by more than 90 per cent in 100 years - killed for their skins and bones.
The Prince of Wales speaks at the End Wildlife Crime conference
The Prince of Wales is briefed on a project aimed at saving the endangered black rhino in Tanzania, November 2011
The Prince of Wales crouches to study a baby albatross and one of its parents, New Zealand 2005
The Duke of Cambridge feeds a black rhino called Zawadi as he visits Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Port Lympne
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry stroke a cheetah during a visit to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Gabarone, Botswana
The Prince of Wales speaks at the launch of the Red Squirrel Survival Trust at Levens Hall in Cumbria
Royal involvement in Conservation
For more than four decades The Prince of Wales has used his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future. He has been President of WWF UK since September 2011.
The Prince of Wales followed in the footsteps of his father HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who became the first President of WWF UK in 1961, and who now holds the position of President Emeritus at WWF-International.
As the President of WWF UK, The Prince delivered the keynote speech during a WWF event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) - an initiative established by WWF to improve the responsible management of the world's forests in September 2011. Read The Prince’s speech
The Prince of Wales has been Patron of Friends of Conservation (FoC) since 1988.
The FOC is an international charity which works to save rhinos, cheetahs and other wildlife in the Masai Mara, as well as running habitat conservation programmes such as reforestation and eco-tourism, by working closely with local communities. It also works with like-minded partners to deliver similar projects across Africa, Asia and Central America. Its mission statement is to: "Join with local people and partners to support sustainable ways of living in harmony with wildlife, ecosystems and the environment".
In a brochure for the Friends of Conservation published in 1989, The Prince of Wales wrote:
“I sincerely believe that the world would be a poorer place without the wild animals which roam, as they have done for millions of years, across the remaining great open spaces of Africa.
"Somehow we have to find a way to strike a balance between the economic and political priorities of the countries concerned and the need for conservation... You cannot but be struck by the responsibility we hold to protect the world’s wildlife and its habitat for our children and future generations.
"I cannot believe they would easily forgive us if all that was bequeathed to them was a few artificial safari parks and a lot of beautifully illustrated books and nicely made films of what it all used to be like.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have also attended events in support of the Elephant Family, a conservation charity run by Mark Shand, Her Royal Highness's brother.
The Prince of Wales's speech at the End Wildlife Crime conference
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech at the #Endwildlifecrime conference
A video from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry on conservation
The Prince of Wales speaks about sustainability at a Maasai Boma in Tanzania
A video message by The Duke of Cambridge for CITES about wildlife conservation
The Duke of Cambridge talks about Tusk Trust
The Prince of Wales's elder son, The Duke of Cambridge has for many years spoken out about the illegal wildlife trade. He has been Patron of UK-based conservation charity Tusk Trust since 2005. Read more about The Duke's work on conservation.
During the conference, The Prince and The Duke both made speeches to address the illegal poaching of wildlife: