Royal Boost for Campaign Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Poached elephant, Burkina Faso

The campaign to curb wildlife trafficking received a royal boost in Washington DC on 8th December when Prince William pressed the urgent need for action in his meeting with President Obama and his speech at the World Bank.

In announcing a new Task Force which will work with the transport industry to try to tackle illicit wildlife transport, Prince William specifically recognised the value of the recent report commissioned by Born Free USA entitled  “Out of Africa: Mapping the Global Trade in Illicit Elephant Ivory”, which focuses on the ivory supply chain and the trafficking of ivory from the bush in Africa to retail markets in Asia.

The Prince, who delivered the message at the start of his US tour alongside his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, has been campaigning to save endangered wildlife for several years. His message complements Born Free’s longstanding efforts aimed at protecting threatened species and bringing an end to individual animal suffering. In particular he lamented the demand for pets, trinkets, cures and ornaments that is devastating wild animal populations across many parts of the world, and the role of corruption in facilitating the trade.

Born Free Foundation’s CEO Adam Roberts welcomed the Prince’s initiative. In a statement, he said:

“Wildlife trafficking has become a multi-billion-dollar business that threatens the very future of some of the world’s most iconic species, and causes immense animal suffering. The increasing involvement of organised criminality also undermines local economies that rely on bountiful living wildlife resources, and risks disrupting social and political stability and security. It is well established that the proceeds of wildlife trafficking also help fund terrorist organisations and militia.

“Born Free has long recognised the serious nature of the illegal wildlife trade, and has been working hard to combat this scourge for many years. The Prince’s intervention will hopefully increase awareness among our political leaders, and secure much-needed resources for chronically underfunded enforcement agencies.”

The illegal wildlife trade is thought to be worth as much as US$20 billion each year. At least 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory across Africa between 2010 and 2012, and the numbers continue to rise. More than 1,000 rhinos have lost their lives in South Africa in 2014 for the second year in succession as poachers target them for their horn, which is highly valued in the Far East for use in traditional medicines and recreation, and as a high-end gift. Wild tiger numbers have plummeted by 97% over the past 100 years because of demand for their skins, bones and body parts. Illegal trade in wild animals and parts and products derived from them also threatens many other species, from great apes to reptiles, and lions to pangolins.

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