The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge will this week urge world leaders to go into â€œbattleâ€ against the illegal wildlife trade after warning that tomorrow will be â€œtoo lateâ€ to save endangered species.
The two future kings have made it their mission to save elephants, rhino and other animals from extinction, and they have persuaded David Cameron to host a two-day conference in London, which will be attended by ministers from countries that contribute to the Â£6 billion trade in ivory, rhino horn and other banned products.
The Prince and the Duke have recorded a video, which will be shown at the conference and released on YouTube, in which the Duke declares: â€œWe have to be the generation that stopped the illegal wildlife trade and secured the future of these magnificent animals and their habitats, for if we fail it will be too late.â€
They hope that the video will be seen in China, Vietnam and other countries where demand for banned animal products leads to what the Prince says are â€œunprecedented levels of killingâ€ by poachers.
The video ends with the Prince and the Duke saying â€œLetâ€™s unite for wildlifeâ€ in Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili and Vietnamese.
The Prince and the Duke appear side by side in front of a fireplace decorated with yellow flowers.
The Duke, positioned on his fatherâ€™s right, invokes the birth of his own son, Prince George, to explain his passion for saving wildlife. â€œThis year, I have become even more devoted to protecting the resources of the earth for not only my own son, but for the other children of his generation to enjoy,â€ he says.
The video then cuts to a sequence of the Prince in Africa, wearing a beige safari suit, apparently examining the skull of a dead elephant, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall.
Both father and son clearly hope to be heard by audiences in the Middle East and Asia, where demand for the tusks and hides of poached animals is highest.
The Prince is assigned the toughest languages for their joint finale, saying â€œLetâ€™s unite for wildlifeâ€ in the variable tones of Mandarin and the guttural phrases of Arabic, as well as in Spanish. The Duke has the easier task of uttering the phrase in Kiswahili âˆ’ and the greater challenge of managing it in Vietnamese.
Having given up his RAF career, the Duke is deciding on a â€œpublic service roleâ€ to fill his time, and his passion for protecting endangered species is such that he may consider making it his biggest cause over the next few years.
He is expected to take on more royal duties when he finishes his 10-week course in agricultural management at Cambridge University, but aides have made it clear that he wants to carve out a new role for himself.
The Prince and the Duke will both attend the conference at Lancaster House, and the Duke will also attend a parallel two-day symposium on wildlife trafficking being held by the Zoological Society of London.
Last year the Duke founded an umbrella organisation called United for Wildlife, which has organised the ZSL symposium and pushed for the conference, which will be attended by 50 international leaders.
More than 30,000 elephants were killed last year, amounting to nearly 100 deaths per day, and a rhinoceros is killed every 11 hours âˆ’ figures the Prince of Wales calls â€œstaggeringâ€. In the past 10 years 62 per cent of African forest elephants have been lost, meaning that the animal, a subspecies of the African elephant, will be extinct within a decade at the current rate of killing.
In Asia, where there were 100,000 tigers a century ago, there are now fewer than 3,200 in the wild.
The Prince says in the film: â€œWe have come together, as father and son, to lend our voices to the growing global effort to combat the illegal wildlife trade âˆ’ a trade that has reached such unprecedented levels of killing and related violence that it now poses a grave threat not only to the survival of some of the worldâ€™s most treasured species, but also to economic and political stability in many areas around the world.
â€œWe must treat the illegal wildlife trade as a battle, because it is precisely that.â€
The Prince goes on to say that â€œthe rising and apparently insatiable demand, much of it from Asiaâ€ has caused poaching to become criminalised, with gangs using helicopters, night vision equipment and assault rifles to slaughter big game.
The Duke says: â€œIt is shocking that future generations may know a world without these magnificent animals and the habitat upon which they depend.
â€œThis year, I have become even more devoted to protecting the resources of the Earth for not only my own son, but also the other children of his generation to enjoy.
â€œI want them to be able to enjoy the same Africa that I did as a child.â€
Despite the â€œterrible crisisâ€ facing wildlife, the Duke says he remains optimistic that â€œthe tide can be reversedâ€.
He cites the â€œpower of social mediaâ€ such as Twitter in helping reduce demand for the products by making it socially unacceptable to buy them.
The conference on Wednesday and Thursday is aimed at tackling three interlinked aspects of the illegal wildlife trade by strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for illegal products and developing sustainable alternative livelihoods for communities where people turn to poaching.
Royal father and son unite to bring down the ivory poachers