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Prince of Wales praises faiths for speaking out forcefully against the wildlife trade

February 14, 2014:

Prince Charles (rt) and his sons Prince William (centre) and Prince Harry (left) Photo: Associated Press

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales yesterday made an impassioned speech against the trade in illegal animals. Among others, he particularly mentioned the role of the world's major religions in taking a firm stance against poaching.

"Over the last several months, the world’s major faiths – including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Daoism – have all begun to speak out forcefully against the wildlife trade," said Britain's future king, in a speech at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade at Lancaster House.

"The governments of the United States, China and France all recently destroyed substantial stockpiles of seized ivory. African leaders came together in Botswana and Paris to plan concerted action. Snow leopard range states met in Kyrgyzstan in October and pledged to protect that rare and elusive species from poaching and other threats," he said.

However he also said he was deeply saddened to have had to play a role in helping bring together the conference.

WWF estimates there are only 3200 tigers left in the wild. Many are being poached.
"A little over a year ago, a group of Presidents from Africa – including President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon – approached me and made an impassioned plea for help. The situation they described was indeed dire. The scale of the poaching crisis their countries were facing had reached unimaginable heights. Organized gangs, terrorist groups and militia were slaughtering ever greater numbers of elephants for their ivory and rhinoceros for their horns. Most threatened of all, they said, is the elephant – an integral part of the ecological and social fabric of the African continent and a keystone species. Their slaughter in both forests and savannahs had created frighteningly silent and sterile places. And without the elephants, some of whose populations are no longer viable and yet are often irreplaceable agents in seed germination, the long-term ecology or many forests is fatally disrupted. No elephants, no forest.

So as never before, Africa was at war to save its wildlife. And its leaders needed help from countries around the world to beat back the sophisticated and well-armed criminals behind the conflict. This tragedy, of course, is not confined to Africa alone. It is crucial to understand that Asia's, specifically India's, wildlife is also being decimated and if the world's focus remains solely on Africa we risk losing South-East Asia's wildlife, which includes 20 per cent of the world's species.

In response to these requests for help, I organized a meeting in May of last year at St. James's Palace to begin to muster action. I asked the Secretary of State for the Environment to join me in hosting that meeting and I was particularly pleased that my eldest son, William, was also able to lend his support..."

More Information

Details of some of the many initiatives by the world's faiths to protect wildlife can be found here.

Prince William speaks out for urgent rhino protection

TUSK charity to protect wildlife

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