Prince William is headed into the Asia Pacific on a solo mission… to defend two animals facing extinction due almost entirely to consumers there. Kensington Palace has announced the Prince will visit Vietnam, the capital of rhino horn use and a major destination for elephant ivory, November 17 and 18, where he will attend the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade. The Duke of Cambridge plans to urge people in Vietnam to stop buying rhino horn and elephant ivory. Vietnam is not only the center of the rhino poaching crisis, but Vietnamese officials are conducting virtually no enforcement of extraordinarily lax wildlife laws.
In September, the Prince spoke about his mission at the Tusk’s Time for Change event in London, where he said “We have the chance to say that ivory is a symbol of destruction, not of luxury, and not something that anyone needs to buy or sell. We have the chance to say that rhino horn does not cure anything, and does not need a legal market. Now is the chance to send an unambiguous message to the world that it is no longer acceptable to buy and sell ivory, rhino horn or other illegal wildlife products. Indeed, I would challenge anyone who knows the truth of how these wildlife products are obtained, to justify desiring them.”
William, a vocal advocate for both elephants and rhinos, is set to make an unprecedented personal appeal during the visit, meeting with the traditional medicine community, young leaders from across Vietnamese society and political figures from throughout South East Asia. Kensington Palace said Prince William “will engage with a wide cross section of Vietnamese society in order to encourage the work of local people to stamp out the use of things like rhino horn.”
United for Wildlife is the nonprofit created by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to combat wildlife trafficking. Videos below show that indeed, both sons of the late Princess Diana, William and Harry, have made the elephant and rhino extinction crises personal crusades of their own.
Prince William made a special address at King's College London for Chinese media on the topic of the illegal wildlife trade, intended for the local community, and in it spoke about the alarming increase in poaching of elephants and rhinos, pushing both animals to extinction, driven by consumer demand primarily in Vietnam and China.
Prince Harry joins his brother as an advocate of the animals, spending time in Africa doing a variety of activities, with rhinos and elephants a key, from helping to track and trim the horns of rhinos to make them a less desirable target to poachers, to visiting and helping out at a rhino orphanage in South Africa, helping to care for baby rhinos that are often left in highly vulnerable condition after their mother was killed in front of them, traumatized, dehydrated and unfortunately at times even wounded by the poachers; the Prince saw the carnage first hand of both rhinos and elephants. Recently, he's been busy involved in remarkable translocation efforts with elephants in Malawi:
Both Prince William and Prince Harry have a long-running commitment to elephants and rhinos. The Duke of Cambridge has been the Royal Patron of conservation organization Tusk since 2005:
Learn more about the rhino extinction crisis in a recent segment on HPR's All Things Considered with investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer, including a one-hour interview exploring the epidemic in detail.