Prince William has launched an ambitious drive to eradicate illegal animal trafficking.
A total of 40 firms and agencies from across the globe have joined the Duke of Cambridge in his fight to block traffickers from shipping illegally killed animals, which was announced Tuesday at Buckingham Palace.
The agreement marks the dawn of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, and will see airline providers, leading shipping companies and customs agencies crack down on the trade of horns, ivory and other endangered animal parts.
According to Prince William, the founding signatories of his so-called Buckingham Palace Declaration represented a diverse range of groups that are united in “an understanding of the gravity” of the globe’s impending poaching crisis.
“If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday,” Prince William said. “We are here today because we have faced up to these facts. But more importantly, we are here today because we have faced up to our responsibility to do something about it.”
The wide array of corporations and agencies that have signed on to Prince William’s new task force have agreed to adopt 11 commitments designed to raise standards across the transport industry so that animal traffickers are unable to move illegally killed endangered species from the wild.
The commitments center on sharing information, improved staff training, investment in new technology, and global resource sharing.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration has been a long time coming. Prince William spent time working to forge a huge network of partnerships between companies and government bodies in China, the United States, UAE, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and Denmark, and the agreement took over a year’s worth of research and meetings.
That being said, Prince William’s desire to eradicate the poaching of endangered animals has gained considerable ground in recent months.
Trophy hunters across the globe earned widespread condemnation in July following the illegal killing of Cecil, a Southwest African lion largely revered as the pride of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
Cecil was lured out of the nature reserve by American dentist and would-be big game hunter Walter Palmer, who mortally wounded the 13-year-old lion before proceeding to “hunt” him over the course of 40 hours.
The killing sparked a global backlash, pressing multiple multinationals and local government bodies to take action against poaching. Delta, American, and United Airlines all announced last summer that they would no longer ship big game animal carcasses.
The state of Washington subsequently entertained an initiative to ban the trade of endangered animal parts entirely.
Prince William told reporters on Tuesday that it was this widespread support for action that demonstrated the merit of his new task force.
“The poaching crisis is unique in that it is largely without controversy,” he said. “Unlike some pressing environmental and conservation challenges, on poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, there is a widespread acceptance of the urgency and scale of the potential disaster we are facing. Everyone agrees that losing these animals from the wild would be a disaster for humanity.”
In many African countries, that disaster has already been realized. Around 95 percent of the world’s rhinos have been lost in the last 40 years. Garamba National Park, one of Africa’s oldest reserves, has already lost more than 90 percent of its elephant population in recent decades.
“It is my view that if we have not turned this crisis round within the next five years, we will have lost this battle forever,” Prince William said. “Let’s step up to the challenge. We cannot afford to waste a single day.”
[Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images]