Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, has said he fears that African elephants will have disappeared from the wild by time his daughter Princess Charlotte turns 25, due to the appalling rate the iconic creatures are being poached.
William was speaking at conservation charity Tusk’s Time for Change event. He is the charity’s royal patron and the event at London’s Shard skyscraper brought together campaigners and policymakers.
The charity has spent more than £30 million on projects over the past 26 years, many of which the prince has visited with his brother Prince Harry.
“When I was born, there were one million elephants roaming Africa.
“By the time my daughter Charlotte was born last year, the numbers of savannah 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.” – Prince William
Ahead of 183 countries meeting this weekend to agree on rules regulating the way wildlife is traded worldwide, William said he was “not prepared to be part of a generation that lets these iconic species disappear from the wild”.
Currently, one African elephant dies for their £1,000 a pound tusks every 15 minutes from a poacher’s bullet, snare or poisoned watering hole. Poaching at this rate could see African elephants extinct in as little as ten years.
“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.
“Materialistic greed cannot be allowed to win against our moral duty to protect threatened species and vulnerable communities.” – Prince William
The wildlife black market is estimated to be worth £15 billion a year with pangolins, African parrots, sharks and lions are all facing population crashes along with elephants and rhinos.
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom also attended the event, the day after she announced a UK ban on modern ivory sales.
“What we’re trying to do is to send a huge signal to the world that the illegal trade and poaching of elephants is not acceptable and that’s what’s going on today, every day.
“So it’s a start on our manifesto commitment and we’re trying to send a very strong message at what is a very important time.” – Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom
She added that it was “absolutely crucial” to have a plan to “discourage” those who would benefit from the “appalling, violent, illegal trafficking (that is) destroying communities and really importantly destroying these iconic beasts – it’s a total global tragedy”.