In an impassioned speech broadcast live from The View from The Shard London, Prince William, today urged an audience of millions worldwide to join him now in the fight to save the elephant and rhino from certain death at the hands of ruthless criminal gangs profiting from the £20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade.
“When I was born”, he said, “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.”
The Prince, who is Royal Patron of Tusk, and has long campaigned to highlight the catastrophic consequences of the daily slaughter of iconic species added “This crisis is not just about animals – this crisis is about people. It is some of the world’s poorest peoples who will suffer when their natural resources are stripped from them illegally and brutally.”
Tusk CEO Charlie Mayhew, who is outspoken in his support of an outright ban on the trade in ivory, recognises that progress has been made since the last CITES conference but says that there is much still to be done. Whilst he welcomes the latest announcement from Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom on a tightening of existing rules on the sale of ivory here in the UK, it is clear he says “………that only by closing our domestic ivory market will we be playing our part in winning the war against the illegal wildlife trade. The 17th CITES conference opening in Johannesburg this weekend offers the UK government the ideal opportunity to take the lead in stopping the killing.”
The Prince was joined at the Tusk Time For Change event by broadcaster Hugh Fearnley Whitingstall and by via live satellite link from Johannesburg by CITES Secretary General, John Scanlon, and from Tokyo by the event’s sponsor, the Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa.
On learning of the poaching crisis with Africa’s wildlife, Dr Handa, offered the support of his ISPS Handa foundation to enable Tusk to stage today’s simultaneous event in London, Tokyo and Johannesburg. He told the events’ guests and those watching live online, “I do not wish to be part of a generation, who knew what was happening and yet did nothing. We can not let these wonderful creatures disappear from our planet. That would be a terrible crime.”
Guests at the launch event enjoyed Pol Roger Brut Reserve overlooking spectacular views of London.