The Duke of Cambridge ended his four-day tour of China with a speech at the Xishuangbanna Elephant Sanctuary in Yunnan Province on Wednesday.
“It is appalling that elephants – and many others – may be extinct in the wild in our lifetimes,” he said, while also mentioning that the extinction of other animals such as rhinos and pangolins would be “an immeasurable loss to the whole of humanity.”
Just last December, the Prince revealed his intention to target China, a country with the highest demand for illegal wildlife products, like ivory, in front of the World Bank.
But Prince William made sure to praise China in his speech for its “contribution to the protection of wildlife in Africa,” as well as for its implementation of a one-year ban on the import of ivory carvings that was put into place last week.
However, he drove home the need to do more, including reducing the demand for products made from endangered animals. “Demand provides traffickers with their incentive. It fuels their greed, and generates their vast profits,” he said.
Prince William has been speaking out against illegal wildlife trafficking for several years, having founded United for Wildlife, an organization that helps to put an end to illegal poaching and wildlife trade.
The Duke was busy during his travels to China. He met with conservationists during his visit to the sanctuary and fed a rescued elephant, as well as with the local Dai community who live side by side with wild elephants. He also appeared on billboards along with David Beckham and Chinese celebrities such as former basketball player Yao Ming and actress Li Bingbing in a WildAid campaign that aims to reduce demand for ivory.
It appears to be working: Reports released this week by WildAid found that 95% of Chinese consumers surveyed agree the Chinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade. They also found that 70.6% believe elephant poaching is a problem, compared with 46.6% in 2012.
We hope that the Prince’s visit was successful, and China continues to support the fight against poaching and wildlife trafficking.