How Prince William Is Engaging World Leaders To Protect Wildlife

Prince William may have been born into privilege, but the Duke of Cambridge is not taking it easy as the future King. The royal heir and his brother, Prince Harry, are committed to wildlife conservation. According to one organization closely associated with the duke, William’s recent statements have done much to help in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. As Tusk Trust chief executive Charlie Mayhew told People, Prince William’s direct appeals to President Obama of the U.S. and Xi Jinping of China have in part spurred both countries to take action.

“He really has made such a huge impression on that issue, and we are all hugely excited by the momentum that he has been largely responsible for creating. It’s good news. Though none of us can afford to be complacent.

“I’m in no doubt that the Duke’s role in highlighting and engaging President Obama and President Xi Jinping personally on this issue has contributed greatly to the statement from China that they intend to close down the ivory trade. It’s a huge step forward from where we were two years ago. That’s a really significant step.

“The Duke has played a very, very big role in seeing this happen.”

Prince William is a patron of Tusk Trust. According to the organization’s official website, the trust works to protect wildlife and alleviate poverty through sustainable development. Tusk Trust has 50 field projects in 18 African countries. The prince has been a patron since 2005.

Prince William Prince Harry wildlife advocacy
Prince Harry and Prince William both engage in charitable work to protect wildlife but are also known recreational hunters. (Photo courtesy of DukeandDuchessofCambridge)

Earlier this month, Prince William made a direct appeal to consumers in China to stop buying illegal wildlife products. As Sky News reported, his appeal was in the form of a taped speech, which was scheduled for later broadcast on Chinese television. The duke brought up the issue with President Xi during a visit to China earlier this year. His speech on Chinese television coincided with President Xi’s state visit to England in October.

Princes William and Harry wildlife charity
The princes got up close to a cheetah at the Mokolodi Education Centre in Gaborone, Botswana, in 2010. (Courtesy of DukeandDuchessofCambridge).

Prince William, his wife, Catherine, and brother, Prince Harry, have a foundation through which the royals perform charitable works. It is aptly called the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. According to the duke and duchess’ official website, it was through this foundation that the royals formalized their commitment to environmental work.

Under the banner of “United for Wildlife,” the foundation brought together seven conservation organizations. The Duke and Prince Harry seem to have inherited their concern for wildlife from their father, the Prince of Wales, and their grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh. Indeed, Prince William noted his own interest in the subject comes from his relatively new role as father.

“I cannot imagine what it would feel like if the last elephant or rhinoceros in the wild died, and I then had to explain to my children how we let it happen.

“It would be impossible to reassure them with a straight face that we could still reverse climate change or end intractable conflicts.”

Princes William and Harry went to Botswana in 2010 to see firsthand some of the projects partnered with Tusk Trust. There were photos of them spending time with a cheetah at the Mokolodi Education Centre in Gaborone.

The Independent reported that Prince Harry went to South Africa this summer to work with the country’s military to combat poaching. The visit stirred some controversy, as media published an old photograph of the younger prince posing in 2004 with a buffalo he had hunted and killed.

In February, 2014, both princes went on a hunting trip to Spain. Although none of the princes’ activities were illegal, the Independent called the 2014 trip to Spain “poorly timed,” as it occurred just days before Prince William participated in a government conference on the illegal wildlife trade.

[Main photo by WPA Pool / Getty Images Entertainment]

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