Prince Charles in wildlife poaching plea
His 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 people 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.”
The heir to the throne 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 with 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.
Prince Charles 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.”