LONDON — Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and son Prince William have made a video plea urging people worldwide to support efforts to stop illegal wildlife trade.
The British government is to host a global conference on the trade, estimated to be worth more than $9.8 billion a year, Thursday in London.
In the 9-minute video, taped in November at Charles’ London home, Clarence House, and broadcast Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son said the trade has hit “unprecedented levels of killing and related violence.”
“It now poses a grave threat not only to the survival of some of the world’s most treasured species, but also to economic and political stability in many areas around the world,” he said.
Britain’s Sun newspaper said Princes William and Prince Harry spent the weekend hunting deer and boar on an estate in Spain, a trip some called ill-timed ahead of the campaign.
Prince William, patron since 2005 of the Tusk Trust conservation charity, is no stranger to blood sports, with the royals holding an annual Christmas shoot on the family’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.
A spokesman for William declined to comment specifically on the trip to Spain but said the prince had been a “passionate advocate for endangered wildlife” for many years. “[He] has campaigned tirelessly to help stop the illegal poaching of rhino horn and elephant tusk. His track record in this area speaks for itself,” he said.
In the video, Princes Charles and William speak in Arabic, Vietnamese, Swahili, Spanish, and Mandarin.
The conference, at which Charles is to speak, aims to boost law enforcement, lower demand for illegal wildlife products, and support sustainable livelihoods for areas involved in the trade.
It will focus especially on elephants, rhinos, and tigers. Rhino horn is worth more than gold and platinum: a rhino is killed by a poacher every 10 hours.
Save the Rhino estimates 29,000 rhinos live in the wild, versus 70,000 in 1970 and 500,000 at the start of the 20th century.