Prince William: We no longer have the luxury of time to tackle the illegal wildlife trade

Prince William - IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Prince William - IAN VOGLER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Prince of Wales will on Tuesday warn the world no longer has the “luxury of time” to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, arguing there are “still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity”.

The Prince, who will deliver a keynote speech at the United for Wildlife Global Summit, will say that experts now have the “roadmap and motivation” to solve the scourge of wildlife crime, ending the destruction of lives and extinction of animals.

Setting out the extensive damage caused by the illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth up to $20 billion each year, he will address 300 leaders from the private sector, conservation and law enforcement at the Science Museum in London for his first major speech since the end of the official royal mourning period.

The Prince, who has campaigned in the sector for years, will say: “There are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity, too many lives being destroyed and too many species on the brink of extinction due to this heinous crime.

“[United for Wildlife] set out to ensure that those involved in wildlife crime face an international response as powerful and coordinated as any other serious and organised crime.

“To bring their sinister operations out of the shadows and to ensure that communities are equipped, empowered and supported to protect themselves and their natural world.”

In particular, he will warn that the world does not have “the luxury of time to tackle it”, but it does have “the roadmap and motivation to do it”.

The summit will pay tribute to wildlife rangers who have been killed as they tried to protect endangered species, including Anton Mzimba who was killed outside his home in South Africa for his work saving rhinos at Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

‘An intolerable offence’

In July, the Prince made a public call for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Tuesday’s summit will call for collaboration from the private sector to help fight poaching.

Speakers will include representatives from Interpol, the Financial Action Task Force, and United for Wildlife, as well as the Royal Foundation.

Lord Hague of Richmond, the chairman of the Royal Foundation, will say: “The depletion of our most precious wildlife continues.

“That makes the illegal wildlife trade an intolerable offence. But its association with violent crime, corruption, people trafficking and even terrorist financing makes it of the utmost seriousness.

“Our response, therefore, needs to be similarly organised, similarly global in scope, and just as serious as the crime we are fighting.

“It is the breadth and diversity of the collaboration that makes the United for Wildlife network unique in its work to defeat illegal wildlife crime.”

Delegates will hear of the success of the taskforce so far, including its contribution to more than 450 law enforcement cases, more than 250 arrests, almost 200 seizures of wildlife products in the six years it has been running.