Earlier today in Hanoi, Viet Nam, HRH The Duke of Cambridge urged governments and others to keep building on the progress that is steadily being made to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. The Duke is Tusk's Royal Patron and President of United for Wildlife and has long been campaigning against a trade that not only threatens countless animals, but also threatens international security, national sovereignties and impoverished rural communities.
Prince William was speaking at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, where Government officials and representatives of NGOs – including Tusk’s CEO Charlie Mayhew – have been developing a new action plan for further decisive and unified action, especially against the trade in ivory and rhino horn.
As a demonstration of their commitment to these efforts, the Vietnamese government publicly destroyed 2,000kg of seized ivory and 70kg of rhino horn ahead of the conference. Prince William applauded these efforts, acknowledging that: “The Vietnamese Government knew that hosting this conference would shine a spotlight both on its good work and ongoing challenges”.
Prince William (pictured above with NGO representatives in Hanoi) had previously helped the inaugural Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade as hosted in London by the UK Government in 2014. He therefore acknowledged the progress that has been made since then, which includes unprecedented partnership between African governments through the Elephant Protection Initiative, and strong commitments to tackle the trade from China, the United States and the transportation industry, as well as through the recent IUCN and CITES conferences.
Despite the progress, Prince William added that “the truth is we are still falling behind. A betting man would still bet on extinction.” He therefore called for ever greater action to halt the illegal ivory trade, tackle the organised criminal syndicates, and engage other sectors within civil society, before finishing on the following, more positive note:
“We can win this battle. And in doing so we can take a small, but important step in reminding ourselves that we are capable of rising to the challenges of our age – a message that our young people need to hear loud and clear."
Meanwhile, Andrea Leadsom, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stressed that her September announcement of a UK ban on modern ivory was an important “first step” towards delivering the Conservative’s manifesto commitment to press for a total ban on ivory sales. She announced that the UK will host the next IWT Conference in London in 2018. The UK Government has also been investing in efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade through the IWT Challenge Fund, which is currently funding two of Tusk’s key anti-poaching projects.
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