The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge look at seized products at the End Wildlife Crime conferenceView Album (10 images)
The Prince of Wales made an impassioned plea today for nations to redouble their efforts to tackle the illegal poaching of wildlife that threatens some of the planet's most iconic animals.
His Royal Highness's rallying call for action to avoid an "irreversible tragedy" was echoed by his son The Duke of Cambridge and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson when all three men spoke at a conference convened to tackle the issue.
The Duke of Cambridge said he had set his Royal Foundation the task of engaging the world's young to help shape public opinion.
The Environment Secretary summed up the misguided value placed on some animal products by stating: "Rhino horn has the same medicinal value as one of my big toe nails."
His Royal Highness told the St James's Palace conference - whose delegates included key conservationists, policy decision makers and representatives from civil society and the private sector - that "stamping out the illegal wildlife trade needs to be placed very near the top of the global agenda. And it needs to be addressed by world leaders as urgent priority".
Threatened species include the elephant, whose numbers are being depleted by an estimated 30,000 each year. In South Africa 668 rhinos were poached in 2012 compared to just 13 in 2007, while sharks are being hunted for their fins to make soup for Far East diners and the rosewood tree is being felled in increasing numbers.
Conservationists, governments and other agencies have made progress in tackling illegal poaching in recent decades but hunters were now sophisticated international gangs feeding emerging markets in China and Vietnam and as much a threat to a country's stability as its wildlife.
The Prince of Wales added: "It is surely unthinkable that these creatures, which have roamed the planet for thousands, if not millions, of years, could disappear completely within a decade, or even less.
"As a father and a soon-to-be grandfather, I find it inconceivable that our children and grandchildren live in a world bereft of these animals.
"Humanity is less than humanity without the rest of creation. Their destruction will diminish us all."
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
A speech by The Prince of Wales at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference
Published on 21st May 2013
Secretary of State, Ministers, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am enormously grateful to you all I must say for taking the trouble to attend this unbelievably important meeting, as I know that some of you have travelled tremendously long distances and may very well be suffering from some appalling jetlag or other.
I also am hugely grateful to Kate Silverton for giving up her precious time. I know she’s taken a huge interest in this particular subject for some time. Having been lucky enough to sit next to her at dinner once or twice I know how much she minds. So it really is very kind of you Kate, today.
I particularly appreciate the fact that Mr. Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has agreed to join me in hosting this meeting, and I also owe a particular debt of gratitude to W.W.F. U.K. (of which I became President two years ago), as well as to TRAFFIC and the I.U.C.N. Their knowledge and expertise have been invaluable to the members of my I.S.U. in putting together this very productive gathering.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the fact that my son is here today, too, in order to support his aging father is hugely appreciated, as I know that his knowledge of, and indeed love for, Africa, its wildlife and its people has not only helped him to understand why this gathering is so important, but has meant that he has already been much involved in the field of conservation with for instance the Tusk Trust of which he is patron and indeed other organizations. I’m only sorry of course that my father could not be ...Read full speech