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The first and second in line to the British throne have told the End Wildlife Crime conference at St James' Palace in London that action must be taken to avoid the "irreversible tragedy" of the extinction of some of the world's best loved animals.
Prince William and his father Prince Charles have made an impassioned joint plea for action against the $15 billion black market trade in endangered wildlife.
Charles told the End Wildlife Crime conference at St James' Palace in London that action must be taken to avoid the "irreversible tragedy" of the extinction of some of the world's best loved animals, including elephants, rhinos and tigers.
Such animals are threatened by poaching for their ivory, horns and other parts.
According to USA Today, the first- and second-in-line to the throne were hosting a conference of international law-enforcement and wildlife groups who have proposed a global partnership against trafficking.
Despite being avid hunters, Charles and his father, Prince Philip, have long been associated with wildlife conservation.
He has said wildlife trafficking was "not only decimating critical endangered species, but is also a pervasive instrument in destabilizing economic and political security."
The Prince of Wales spoke starkly of rhinos, tigers and elephants disappearing from the wild "within a decade or even less" if the "astonishing explosion in poaching" by organized gangs was not stopped.
"They are taking these animals, sometimes in unimaginably high numbers, using the weapons of war — assault rifles, silencers, night vision equipment, and helicopters."
According to the London Telegraph, Charles warned that the world was in a "terrible race against time" to save species.
The London conference was the most high-profile event yet organized by the Prince of Wales, who heads up the International Sustainability Unit.
Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, attended and agreed that "history will not forgive us" if world leaders failed to act.
Prince William, who proposed to Kate Middleton while they were on a safari vacation in Africa, has followed in his father and grandfathers' footsteps.
He has long acted as royal patron of Tusk Trust, which supports African wildlife.
The Daily Mail quoted him as adding to his father's comments that the increased slaughter of animals to make exotic products reflected people's "economic prosperity," by saying:
"I think the consumer deserves to know that the illegal animal parts’ fashionable and luxurious image is at odds with the barbarity of how these animals parts are obtained."