I would like to start by thanking Their Royal Highnesses for hosting today’s forum and for providing us with an opportunity to discuss this urgent and vital issue. It is inspiring to see and hear two generations of our Royal Family following in the footsteps of the Duke of Edinburgh who over many decades has done so much to promote the conservation of many of the species that are now under threat.
The illegal trade in wildlife jeopardises the very survival of some of our most iconic species, like rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans.
‘If they’re gone…’
It is against this background that I launched the ‘If they’re gone…’ campaign at the Cotswold Wildlife Park back in March, focusing initially on rhinos. The campaign is a key part of our efforts to raise awareness of the impacts of the demand for products made from animal parts. Education must be a key weapon in our armoury.
Rhino horn has the same medicinal value as my big toenail. Despite this, the seemingly insatiable appetite for rhino horn means that it is now fetching as much as £40,000 per kg. It is shocking that we are losing a rhino to poachers every 11 hours. This is reversing all of the good conservation work that saw white rhino numbers increase by around 9.5 per cent a year and black rhinos by 6 per cent between the early 1990s and the end of 2007. It is beyond depressing that between 2007 and 2011 there has been a 3,000 per cent increase in rhino poaching. More....