"The truth is we are still falling behind," he said. "A betting man would still bet on extinction."
Prince William made an impassioned speech at an international wildlife conference during his visit to Vietnam on Thursday, calling on the British government to ban imported ivory.
William, who is in the country for the first time as part of his campaign to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade, said that he feared campaigners weren’t making progress quickly enough.
“The truth is we are still falling behind,” he told delegates. “A betting man would still bet on extinction.”
He said that China has already “signalled a total ban, the USA has instituted one, and other nations including the United Kingdom are considering it.”
He added, “We know now what previous generations did not – ivory treated as a commodity is the fuel of extinction. Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful. So, the question is, why are we still trading it? We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent.”
He praised the Vietnamese government for carrying out its first burning of illegally traded rhino horn and ivory last weekend and hailed how far the movement had come since two years ago when the first International Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade convened in London.
“Since then we have seen unprecedented partnership between African governments to work together to fight poaching through the Elephant Protection Initiative,” he remarked.
And William, who is patron of Tusk Trust and shares his passion for protecting wildlife with his brother Prince Harry, highlighted how the transportation industry was coordinating actions to clamp down on trafficking routes.
But he added, “There is much to be proud of and I want to make sure we take confidence from what has been achieved. We are on the right side of history.
“But here is the problem: we know that we aren’t moving fast enough to keep up with the crisis. Rhinos, elephants, pangolin, lions — they are all still being killed in horrifying numbers.
“The Great Elephant Census published this summer confirmed our worst fears about the shocking 30 percent decline in the African elephant population in just seven years.”
The prince said he wants to to halt the demand for the wildlife parts in a part of the world that fuels the trade.
He also filmed an interview with a local chat show on Thursday. Interviewed by Thuy Duong, the presenter of Talk Vietnam, he discussed his love for wildlife and how much he enjoyed his first visit to the country.
Yesterday, William met with schoolkids to talk about protecting rhino and visited a traditional medicine market, Lang Ong Street and discussed conservation efforts with activists and medical experts in a local coffee shop.