The Duke of Cambridge has unveiled a major new agreement in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, warning that without action wild elephants and rhino will be extinct by his daughter Princess Charlotte's 25th birthday. Prince William's United for Wildlife organisation has brought together 40 transport, customs and wildlife agencies and corporations to sign the Buckingham Palace Declaration – an 11-point commitment to stopping ivory and other items being smuggled via the transport industry.
And he described the treaty, signed on Tuesday at the Queen's official London home, as a "game changer in the race against extinction."
Prince William signed the declaration at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday
William, 33, said: "If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday."
"The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death and corruption to many vulnerable communities," he added. "It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.
"But this crisis can be stopped. We know where the animals are that we need to protect. We know where the markets for wildlife products are and where awareness, education, and law enforcement need to be improved.
"And with the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to market place.
Prince William met with William Hague at Buckingham Palace before signing the declaration
"By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction. I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis."
The agreement was drawn up by the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, which was set up by William in December 2014 and led by Lord Hague. It consisted of senior leaders from transport companies in China, the USA, Kenya, the UK and Denmark.
Those signed up are committed to stopping traffickers exploiting weaknesses in the transport industry through information sharing, staff training, better technology and global co-operation. The world's top transport firms will also help those in poorer countries by sharing their knowledge.
The scheme has been backed by key intergovernmental agencies including the World Customs Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
United for Wildlife, of which William is President, is an alliance between seven of the world's top conservation organisations and the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.