Prince William praises fight against 'abhorrent' illegal wildlife trade in rare video message

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·Royal Correspondent
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Prince William has sent a video message in support of those trying to end the “abhorrent” illegal wildlife trade.

William, 38, is not often seen in front of the camera in this way, but he and his wife Kate have been embracing video messages more frequently since the lockdown prevented them carrying out regular engagements.

William’s message came after a report was released by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the money laundering and terrorism funding watchdog, which highlighted the global threat of criminal activity.

In the report, the FATF said it is concerned about the lack of focus on the financial aspects of the major transnational crime, which it estimates to be worth between $7 and $23 billion (£5.6 and £18.5 billion) per year.

The FATF worked with the Duke of Cambridge’s United For Wildlife organisation on the report.

The duke called the report a “a pivotal moment in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade”.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (L), sits alongside Britain's formern Forweign Secretary, Lord William Hague of Richmond, as he hosts the signing ceremony of United For Wildlife's Financial Taskforce Declaration at Mansion House in London on October 10, 2018 ahead of the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference which opens on October 11. - The Duke of Cambridge, President of United for Wildlife, hosted a meeting of the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce and signing of The United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce Declaration ahead of the international Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, which is being hosted in London by the UK Government from the 11th-12th October. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read EAMONN M. MCCORMACK/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince William and Lord William Hague ahead of the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference. (Getty Images)

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He added: “The work that has been done will help authorities trace the finances of the transnational organised crime gangs that facilitate this abhorrent activity.

“It underlines the need for us to work together to tackle the ill-gotten gains of wildlife poachers and traffickers and put a stop to this multi-billion criminal dollar enterprise.”

He said he was pleased the report would be used to educate governments around the world, and continued: “This will help to improve and co-ordinate the public and private sectors to detect, disrupt and prevent this crime.

“Because it is only through prioritising this issue and following the money that we will stop these criminals in their tracks.

“Once again, I am grateful to you all for your continued efforts to end the illegal wildlife trade for good.”

The Duke and Duchess visited the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation. The centre provides emergency care and rehabilitation to wild animals that have been injured, displaced, or orphaned.  The centre has a strong re-release rate of 60% and has rehabilitated thousands of animals including hand-raised elephants, rhinos, and bears. The centre is also home to rescued leopards which sadly cannot be re-released from the site and have to be rehomed in sanctuaries and zoos in other locations, mainly in India. Before leaving CWRC, The Duke and Duchess met young filmmakers who are members of Green Hub, a project that teaches film-making as a vocational skill to young people across North-East India. They saw short films that both focus on human animal conflict.. Picture: Arthur Edwards
The Duke and Duchess at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in India. (Arthur Edwards)

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The report found criminals are using legitimate wildlife trade as a cover to move and hide the proceeds from wildlife crime, and also rely on bribing officials, like rangers, customs agents, prosecutors and judges.

Some examples in the report of illegally traded wildlife include juvenile glass eels, which can be worth as much as $6,000 (£4,800) in Europe, ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales.

The FATF said buyers and sellers make use of technology like VPN to hide their true locations.

It has urged governments to engage in “high-level political commitment” to tackle the crimes.

The illegal wildlife trade is something Prince William has been working to tackle for several years and has spoken at many conferences on.

He founded United for Wildlife in 2013, which tackles the illegal trade in terms of better onsite protection and closing down illegal routes.

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