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William: I cannot face my children and say we let elephants become extinct

Press Association logoPress Association 11/10/2018 By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent
Prince William speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. © AP Prince William speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London.

The Duke of Cambridge has said he is not willing to look his children in the eye and tell them his was the generation that let wildlife such as elephants and tigers go extinct “on our watch”.

William has told political leaders, businesses and conservation groups at an international conference that the illegal wildlife trade was run by criminal networks who threatened the livelihoods of generations to come, as well as the species that were targeted.

Making the keynote speech to the conference in London, the duke said: “I feel it is my duty and our collective responsibility to leave our planet in a stronger position for our children.”

“I for one am not willing to look my children in the eye and say we were the generation that let this happen on our watch.”

William told the conference that some of rhinos he saw on a recent trip to Africa “are so threatened they have more bodyguards than I do.” Prince William: The Duke of Cambridge gave the keynote speech (PA) © Provided by The Press Association The Duke of Cambridge gave the keynote speech (PA)

William also told the conference that the illegal wildlife trade which threatens species is an economic crime.


Wanting to protect nature is not just an emotional issue, “it makes economic sense”, he told delegates.

And he said: "Caring about the environment – our air, water, land and animals – is motivated by something that is simple and universal.

“A desire to protect this planet for those who will come after us.

“I firmly believe that the natural world is our biggest and most important asset, and the key to our future prosperity.”

After making his speech, the Duke and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met representatives of organisations engaged in the fight against wildlife crime, including United for Wildlife, a charity which he convened and which is run by the Royal Foundation.

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