Prince William Makes a Passionate Plea to Save African Elephants: 'Ivory Is a Symbol of Destruction, Not of Luxury'

Latifah Muhammad

Prince William is on a mission to save one of our planet's most treasured species.

For the last few years, the 34-year-old royal has spoken out against illegal wildlife trade, which he reiterated during a passionate speech at the Time 4 Change global awareness event in London on Thursday.

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Speaking on behalf of the wildlife charity and event sponsor, Tusk, William shared polarizing statistics on the number of African elephants that have been slaughtered since 1982.

"When I was born there were one million elephants roaming Africa," said the father of 3-year-old Prince George, and 1-year-old Prince Charlotte. "By the time my daughter Charlotte was born last year, the numbers of savanna elephants had crashed to just 350,000."

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William warned that if the "current pace of poaching continues," the beloved creatures will be "gone from the wild" by the time his daughter turns 25.

The speech also included a message on rhinos, another animal facing extinction due to the illegal ivory trade. It is estimated that more than 5,000 African rhinos were killed by poachers between the years of 2008-2015.

"I am not prepared to be part of a generation that lets these iconic species disappear from the wild," William explained. "I am not prepared to explain to our children why we lost this battle when we had the tools to win it."

The Duke of Cambridge's poignant address, coincides with the announcement that he will head to Hanoi, Vietnam on Nov. 17-18 for the third Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference. In addition to attending the conference, William plans to meet with conservationist in the South Asian country.

"We have the opportunity to end, once and for all, the mixed messages we have to sent for too long about the value and desirability of wildlife products," he added. "We have a chance to say that ivory is a symbol of destruction, not of luxury, and not something that anyone needs to buy or sell. We have the chance to say that rhino horn does not cure anything and does not need a legal market."

See how William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, continue to honor their mother, Princes Diana, through charity work in the video below.

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