William eyes end to illegal wildlife trade

Prince William has spoken at the United for Wildlife Taskforces meeting at St James's Palace.
Prince William has spoken at the United for Wildlife Taskforces meeting at St James's Palace.

The Duke of Cambridge has called on organisations to help end the "abhorrent crime" of illegal wildlife trade, following what he called an "encouraging" year of seizures and investigations.

William welcomed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to St James's Palace in London for a meeting of the United for Wildlife Taskforces.

United for Wildlife (UfW) works to combat illegal wildlife trade by bringing together conservation organisations, law enforcement, governments and global corporations.

The duke made a speech to the meeting on Tuesday, the day after he and the Duchess of Cambridge hosted a Buckingham Palace reception for delegates attending the UK-Africa Investment Summit.

It came as his brother Prince Harry travelled to Canada after attending the summit in London, which is likely to be one of his few remaining official engagements before he steps back from the royal family in the spring.

Harry flew to Vancouver to be reunited with the Duchess of Sussex and son Archie, after concluding talks about the couple's future roles.

Addressing the meeting, attended by US ambassador Woody Johnson, William called it an "exciting time" for the two taskforces to be coming together.

"We start this year, and indeed this decade, in a very strong position," he said.

"The world's largest transport and financial companies - many of whom are represented here today - are changing their everyday procedures.

"It is now becoming business as usual for transport companies to track down illegal wildlife products in their cargo, and for banks to investigate and report suspicious transactions related to illegal wildlife crime."

But the duke acknowledged how "crucial" the commitment from the Transport Taskforce and Financial Taskforce was, "because sadly the demand for wildlife products has not diminished".

The duke, however, said it was "encouraging" that last year saw a record number of wildlife seizures and investigations.

Created in 2014, UfW was founded by the Royal Foundation, a joint venture between William and Harry in 2009 to run all of their charitable campaigns and ventures.

It was later joined by Kate when she became Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

But Harry departed the foundation shortly after he and Meghan split their household from Kensington Palace.

Australian Associated Press