At the event, held at Google Town Hall in London, The Duke of Cambridge said the illegal wildlife trade thrives because it is hidden – which makes it easier for criminals to operate. United for Wildlife wanted to find a way to show the world what was happening and to ask those who are alarmed by what they see to join our side.
The #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign calls for people to show their support by signing up via Facebook, Twitter or Google+, subscribing to United for Wildlife You Tube channel or visiting the website http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/ to find out more. They can highlight the conservation issue by watching or participating in United for Wildlife sports events.
The Duke was joined at the launch by David Beckham, who announced the first group of global ambassadors for the campaign. They are: Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Francois Pienaar, Rahul Drvaid, Yao Ming, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Hans Sarpei, and The Liecester Tigers, alongside Prince Harry. More ambassadors will be announced shortly.
Sport will be the vehicle through which young people engage with the campaign, and through these ambassadors a number of global sporting events will feature the logo. Lewis Hamilton showed his support for United for Wildlife at yesterday’s Canadian Grand Prix, Andy Murray has a surprise in store for us at Wimbledon, and there will be many more to follow.
To explain the urgent need for the campaign, Emmanuel de Merode, Director of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo explained the dangerous reality of the frontline in wildlife protection. Emmanuel, who was shot and wounded recently in an ambush in the DRC, explained that in the midst of a civil war, the park and its natural riches must be preserved for those who rely on it for their future.A population of 3,000 forest elephants has been reduced to 400 with one herd in danger of being completely wiped out by poachers.
The Duke of Cambridge said: “Around the world, the illegal wildlife trade is responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals a year, pushing some of our most beloved species to the brink of extinction. Our children should not live in a world without elephants, tigers, lions and rhinos. Enough is enough. It is time to choose between critically endangered species and the criminals who kill them for money. Whose side are you on?”
David Beckham said: “Together we can stop the trade that is killing our wildlife. And we have to be effective and determined, because it’s beginning to look as though ours is the last generation with the chance of stopping it. Believe me, we can make the critical difference.