London: Prince William has enlisted Soccer star David Beckham in the fight against illegal wildlife products as he launched a new global conservation organisation.
Yesterday, the 31-year-old second-in-line to Britain`s throne announced he was quitting the Armed Forces and revealed that he has created a partnership called United for Wildlife, which brings together seven of the world`s most influential conservation organisations, as well as `The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry`.
The body will initially focus on the illegal wildlife trade, and is likely to take up a large slice of the Duke`s time after he announced today that his seven-year operational career in the forces was at an end.
The Duke will be president of the new organisation.
Yesterday, the Duke was joined by Beckham and the former Chinese basketball star Yao Ming to record two public service videos on behalf of the anti-wildlife trade charity WildAid.
The videos are aimed at the Far East, which has the biggest market for banned wildlife products such as rhino horn and ivory, and will be released later this year.
An estimated 25,000 elephants are killed every year by ivory poachers and 618 rhinos have been killed so far this year for their horns.
The Duke has earlier warned that the "catastrophe" facing rhinos and other species could make them extinct within our lifetime.
Beckham said: "When I learned of the current poaching levels in Africa, I immediately agreed to help get this message out. It is shocking to think that we could lose these animals from the wild in our lifetimes."
Yao Ming, one of the biggest sports stars in China, said: "We must reduce demand if we are going to save these animals. We made tremendous progress reducing demand for shark fin soup through a similar campaign and a government ban at banquets is also helping."
"Traders say shark fin demand has been cut by 50 per cent or more. I hope we can do the same for ivory and rhino horn."
The Duke said of United for Wildlife: "The threats to our natural heritage are extensive, but I believe that this collaboration of the best minds in conservation will provide the impetus for a renewed commitment and action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations."
Demand for rhino horn, ivory and other products made from parts of tigers, turtles and other endangered species is increasing in China and the Far East as living standards rise.
Earlier this year the Duke joined the Prince of Wales at a conference on the illegal wildlife trade held in St James`s Palace, where they saw items seized from smugglers by HM Customs including rhino horns, ivory products and stuffed tiger cubs.