Shipping companies join Prince William

Shipping companies join Prince William bid to shut wildlife trafficking routes.

Prince William-led initiative to be signed by 40 organisations, including port operators and transport groups to curb $19bn illegal poaching trade.

The world’s largest shipping and airline companies, port operators and transport groups will commit on Tuesday to trying to shut down the main international wildlife trafficking routes.

The initiative, to be signed by 40 organisations, is led by Prince William and backed by the world’s largest conservation groups including Conservation International and WWF.

By sharing information on suspected traffickers, working with customs and enforcement authorities, training cargo staff on what to look out for and refusing to ship suspect cargos, they hope to strangle the $19bn (£13bn) a year illegal wildlife trade which has brought populations of many endangered species including tigers and elephants to the brink of extinction.

The initiative from the United for Wildlife taskforce, which is chaired by Prince William, follows a 2015 report from the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic. This showed that even though national law enforcement was improving and illegal shipments were being seized, loopholes and shifting trade patterns meant that the volume of the multi-billion dollar trade has not diminished.

The Buckingham Palace declaration, to be signed today, will see companies and trade bodies sign up to 11 principles amounting to what is being called a “zero tolerance” policy towards the trade.

They include Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, Abu Dhabi-based port operator DP World which owns 70 of the world’s largest maritime ports, Emirates Airlines, DHL, cruise liners, international custom groups and international trade bodies.

Prince William has become a leading advocate against poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, having briefed Obama, Chinese premier Xi Jinping, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and other world leaders in the past 18 months. A Kensington palace spokesman said that the prince’s attempt to stop the massacre of wildlife is an important test for his generation’s ability to solve future complex global challenges.

“Criminals are able to exploit weak and corrupt standards, so we must raise those standards, collectively. Cooperation is our greatest weapon against the poachers and traffickers who rely on evading individual national initiatives. By taking a truly international approach, we can get one step ahead of them,”the prince told a World Bank meeting last year.

Today the prince said humanity had 10 years to save animals such as the rhino: “In the next 5-10 years if there’s not a massive change, a dramatic change in the way we appreciate and protect these iconic species in Africa there won’t be these incredible animals there, which not only is obviously sad for future generations but I think it would be incredibly devastating for humanity itself when we have sat back and we have lost something we have been responsible for.”

He told ITV: “If we haven’t achieved something in the next 5-10 years then it will be almost impossible to do anything after that. Because the numbers will be so depleted the damage will be done so badly and clearly the demand won’t have been halted.” Figures published last week showed a record number of African rhino were killed in 2015.