Like his father The Prince of Wales and his grandfather The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Cambridge has a passion for conservation.
Through his charitable work he has championed causes which support communities in the UK and internationally to preserve their wild heritage for future generations.
Through his Foundation, The Duke of Cambridge has brought together an unprecedented collaboration between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations and the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The partnership, named “United for Wildlife”, is a long-term commitment to tackle the global challenges to the world’s natural resources so they can be safeguarded for future generations. The Duke is President of the collaboration.
In a speech The Duke of Cambridge, said: "At the root of the illegal wildlife trade, for example, is the demand for products that require the deaths of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction. We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms.”
The Duke of Cambridge and his father, The Prince of Wales, have worked together to use their unique position to highlight the Illegal Wildlife Trade. The Prince of Wales convened a Conference with the UK Government in May 2013, which The Duke also attended, and they jointly attended a United for Wildlife meeting at the Zoological Society London (ZSL) in November 2013.
Their Royal Highnesses also worked together part of a week of high-level activity in London in February 2014 to tackle this global crisis. Together they recorded a video message, attended the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted by the UK Government at Lancaster House, where Prince Harry joined his brother and father to lend support to the campaign.
His Royal Highness has also sought to raise awareness of the importance of conservation in a number of other practical ways – through private visits, keynote, speeches, public engagements, Royal patronage, and messages of support. The Duke’s work is ongoing.
Prince Harry and The Duke of Cambridge stroke a cheetah during a visit to the Mokolodi Education Centre in Gaborone, Botswana, 2010.
Prince Harry and The Duke of Cambridge hold a rock python during a visit to the Mokoldi Nature reserve near Gabarone, Botswana
The Duke of Cambridge plays with children who are part of the 'Coaching for Conservation' scheme in Maun, Botswana.
The Duke of Cambridge talks with members of the "Cycle of Life" team at Clarence House in London before they set off for their 5000 mile ride across rural Africa in aid of Tusk Trust, 2008.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge walk over a bridge at the Borneo Rainforest Research Center in Danum Valley, Borneo, 2012.
The Duke of Cambridge is the Royal Patron of the charity Tusk Trust, which works to protect endangered species in Africa such as elephant, rhino, cheetah, giant sable and marine species.
As Chief Executive of Tusk Trust, Charlie Mayhew has seen The Duke’s commitment to conservation first-hand.
He said: "Tusk has been incredibly fortunate to have had The Duke as its Royal Patron since 2005. His passion and deep concern for wildlife stems in part from spending some of his GAP year in Kenya, where he was exposed to some of the challenges facing conservationists.
“The Duke shares our philosophy that the future of Africa's unique wildlife relies heavily on our ability to successfully link the livelihoods of local people with the benefits of preserving their natural heritage.”
Tusk currently has a portfolio of 56 projects spread across 18 African countries. One such programme, managed by the Northern Rangelands Trust and supported by Tusk, has seen two million acres of community land come under a common conservation policy with initiatives that are directly and simultaneously benefiting 75,000 people as well as a significant wildlife population in northern Kenya.
The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry travelled to Botswana together on a joint overseas tour in 2010. The Duke was keen to show his brother the work of Tusk Trust in the country. Together the brothers visited the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation and reserve which is partnered by Tusk. The Foundation aims to promote a love of, and regard for Nature in Botswana’s youth through environmental education.
Another project they saw in Botswana involved developing a bio-boundary technique to reduce conflict between farmers and natural marauders and predators.
In a speech to mark Tusk’s 20th anniversary, The Duke said of projects like these: “The imperative of balancing conservation of wildlife and natural resources with the ever-growing needs of the human race is at the heart of the great challenge facing mankind today.”
Like their father The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry often play polo to raise money for charity, and The Duke has regularly played for the Tusk team.
Tusk has also benefited from support from other charities and organisations affiliated with The Duke of Cambridge. In 2008, young people from the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint took part in a 5000 mile Cycle for Life charity bike ride across Africa in aid of Tusk Trust.
Charlie Mayhew said: “The Duke’s support for Tusk over the years has been immensely helpful in raising the profile of the charity and the funds that we need. His ability to draw global attention to the plight of endangered species being decimated by illegal wildlife trade has been warmly welcomed by conservationists across the globe.
“He is a powerful advocate for Tusk and the work that we do to support conservation, education and community development right across Africa. We are enormously grateful to him."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were guests of honour at the inaugural Tusk Trust awards, held at the Royal Society in central London in September 2013. The Duke presentedThe Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, a lifetime achievement award given to a distinguished individual for outstanding dedication and exceptional contribution to conservation in Africa over many years.
Unite for Wildlife
The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge meet conservation leaders for a UnitedForWildlife meeting
The Duke of Cambridge makes a speech at the #Endwildlifecrime conference
A video from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry on conservation
The Duke of Cambridge talks about Tusk Trust
The Duke of Cambridge launches a 5000 mile bike ride through Africa
Raising awareness at a critical time
Through his position as a member of the Royal Family, His Royal Highness has been keen to raise awareness of the poaching crisis, particularly involving Africa’s rhinoceros and elephants, and the associated illegal trade in their horn and ivory.
Many experts highlight that Africa’s rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in decades, with the most serious poaching upsurges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
The Duke of Cambridge has been increasingly active in this area in recent months in response to this critical issue:
· In June 2012 The Duke gave an interview to the BBC to show his support for a Tusk Trust backed UK project sending three captive black rhinos to the wild in Tanzania in East Africa and to call for poaching to stop. Watch the interview on the BBC website here
· In March 2013, The Duke of Cambridge recorded a video message for The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to call for action against illegal killing of rhino and elephant.
· The Prince of Wales convened a Conference with the UK Government in May 2013, which The Duke attended.
· In August 2013, His Royal Highness spoke to CNN about the need to act on the illegal trade in horn and ivory, as part of his work with the Tusk Trust awards.
· In September 2013 The Duke convened, and became President of, United for Wildlife, a collaboration of seven of the largest field based global conservation organisations.
· In September 2013 The Duke of Cambridge, David Beckham, and Yao Ming filmed two messages targeting audiences in China and Vietnam. They aired globally from January 2014 as part of WildAid’s demand reduction campaign and the Royal Foundation’s United for Wildlife Collaboration.
· The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were guests of honour at the inaugural Tusk Trust awards, held at the Royal Society in central London in September 2013.
· In November 2013 The Duke of Cambridge attended a United for Wildlife meeting at the Zoological Society London (ZSL) with his father.
· February 2014 saw a week of action including: The release of a joint video message by Their Royal Highnesses discussing the illegal wildlife trade; The Duke of Cambridge attended the United for Wildlife Symposium at the Zoological Society London; The Duke of Cambridge attended a reception at the Natural History Museum, hosted by the UK Government to mark the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade; The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry attended the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted by the UK Government at Lancaster House.
Another way in which The Duke promotes wildlife conservation is through public engagements in the UK and while on official overseas tours, often supported by his wife The Duchess of Cambridge.
On visit to the United States in December 2014, The Duke of Cambridge attended a number of events that focussed on the collaborative, global efforts needed to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, which is an issue that he is personally committed to supporting.
His Royal Highness attended the International Corruption Hunters Alliance Conference at the World Bank in Washington, during which he delivered a speech highlighting the link between corruption, wild and natural resource crime and illicit financial flows.
Addressing an audience of experts, policy makers, anti-corruption agents and private companies, The Duke described then illegal wildlife trade as "one of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today."
He added that the effects of wildlife crime go far beyond just a threat to endangered species. It also has impacts on our society, economy and security.
"Wildlife crime goes to the heart of our security", The Duke said. "It recognises neither national borders nor national interests. It distorts economic development, undermines the rule of law and exacerbates sources of conflict.
"Traffickers are taking advantage of globalisation, hiding within the huge flows of goods across borders and exploiting technology - from helicopters and precision weapons to the borderless market of the internet."
"Together they loot our planet, to feed mankind’s ignorant craving for pets, trinkets, cures and ornaments derived from the world’s vanishing and irreplaceable species."
During his speech, The Duke announced plans for a new Taskforce, set up by The Royal Foundation under the auspices of United for Wildlife, to look at the role of the transport industry within the Illegal Wildlife Trade and examine how the sector can break the chain between suppliers and consumers. The Taskforce will be chaired by former Foreign Secretary William Hague and will call on transport companies to implement a "zero tolerance" policy towards the trade. Read The Duke's speech at the World Bank in full here
The Taskforce will bring together key partners from the transport sector, leading conservation charities and be underpinned by expert legal advice. Within a year, the Taskforce will aim to develop recommendations for how it can play its part in shutting down wildlife trafficking trade routes, with the intention that the these recommendations encourage global action to shatter the illegal wildlife trade.
World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim joined The Duke at the Corruption Hunter's Conference, during which Kim thanked His Royal Highness for his determination "in rooting out and breaking apart the entrenched corruption in the illegal wildlife trade."
While in Washington, The Duke enjoyed the opportunity to raise the plans for this Taskforce during a meeting with The President at the White House.
Following their meeting, the White House Press Secretary confirmed "The Duke of Cambridge briefed the President on his initiative to combat the illegal wildlife trade, an issue to which the President and this administration are strongly committed."
In New York, His Royal Highness also co-hosted a reception with Secretary Clinton that recognised the work carried out by United for Wildlife, the Clinton Foundation and Tusk Trust in support of some of the world's most iconic and endangered species. Elephant protection is one of the Clinton Foundation's key strands of work, as it is with The Royal Foundation. In the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2014, The Clinton Foundation announced a number of initiatives in support of elephant protection and Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have spent considerable efforts recently to help reduce the demand for elephant ivory.
Through his United for Wildlife Consortium, The Duke of Cambridge will continue to raise awareness of the devastating effects of wildlife crime and encourage a concerted global response against the poachers and traffickers who are plundering the world's natural heritage and are responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals a year.
During a visit to California in 2011, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a reception to mark the launch of Tusk's US Patrons Circle at the house of OSCAR winning film producer and philanthropist, Steve Tisch. They raised awareness for the charity amongst high profile US supporters, including actress Reese Witherspoon.
“It was inspiring to not only have Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the event, but also to hear how passionately they speak about their commitment to the cause,” Steve Tisch said.
At the London premiere of the film African Cats, which The Duke and Duchess attended in April 2012, he gave a keynote address where he highlighted there are now half as many lions living wild in Africa than 20 years ago, principally due to loss of habitat.
“Africa’s natural heritage is the world’s natural heritage. We have to preserve places like this…not just for us, but for future generations”, he said.
Later that year, in September 2012, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge put habitat conservation on the agenda again when they represented Her Majesty The Queen on a Diamond Jubilee Tour in South East Asia.
They took the opportunity to visit the Danum Valley in Sabah, which is home to some of the last remaining areas of primary tropical rainforest in South East Asia. The Royal Society, of which The Duke is a fellow, runs a research centre deep in the jungle.