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William plea on wildlife 'plunder'

Published 21/05/2015

The Duke of Cambridge has long been a supporter of the charity
The Duke of Cambridge has long been a supporter of the charity

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken out against the "plunder and destruction" of African wildlife at the 25th anniversary of conservation charity Tusk.

Despite having a newborn baby at home, William looked fresh-faced and relaxed as he chatted with guests including opera singer Katherine Jenkins and comedian Rory Bremner.

Guests congratulated him on the birth of his daughter Charlotte as he attended the star-studded reception at Windsor Castle.

And he laughed as he shared a joke with Bremner at the soiree.

But later William struck a far more serious tone as he urged the world to take "action" against the slaughter of animals for their body parts.

In a speech to dinner guests, he said: "The plunder and destruction of Africa's natural endowment remains one of the greatest challenges facing the world - and it is growing worse by the week.

"Over the last 100 years, the abundance of the world's species has decreased by almost a third.

"But the picture in the last few years has seen a genuinely unprecedented rise in the numbers of animals being slaughtered for their body parts.

"With the illegal trade on the rise, our response to it must rapidly evolve. The time for words has long gone - we must see action."

He was speaking at the 25th anniversary of conservation charity Tusk, of which he is patron.

The charity works to tackle poaching and protect Africa's wildlife through conservation.

William told the audience of 300 guests of his love for the "charismatic animals that roam Africa" and paid tribute to the charity's work.

He said: "Against a harrowing and sometimes soul-destroying backdrop, Tusk and its partners continue to build an amazing portfolio of projects, investing in grassroots conservation in Africa to help tackle this insidious trade."

Tusk chief executive Charlie Mayhew thanked William for attending the event, saying: "And of course you, sir, as our royal patron, for generously giving up your evening to be away from your daughter."

Mr Mayhew earlier said the Duke's support had been invaluable in helping to raise the profile of the cause internationally.

He said: "It's a big moment for the charity, it is a milestone.

"The Duke has been an unbelievable advocate and so committed and passionate about raising the profile of what's going on."

Asked if he thought William's children, George and Charlotte, would follow in their father's footsteps and fight for conservation, he said: "William has spoken himself about how he hoped his children will pick up this baton."

Singer Jenkins, who is pregnant with her first child, arrived at the reception arm in arm with her husband, Andrew Levitas.

She said: "My husband and I are very much into conservation.

"I have recently been to South Africa where I saw the rhinos and it was a life-changing experience - to see the whole team and what goes into protecting just one animal.

"It is something I feel incredibly passionate about and we all should be taking responsibility for."

Dressed in a navy Grecian-style dress, she said being pregnant was an "incredibly exciting time".

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