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A Washington Post article this month stated that elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas and other large herbivores are disappearing at an alarming rate, but we already know that. The shocking part of the article was this statement: “The situation is so dire, according to a new study, that it threatens an ‘empty landscape’ in some ecosystems ‘across much of the planet Earth’.”

Such slow-breeding, long-living species are known to be vulnerable to human activities – from encroachment, cultivation, deforestation and livestock, as well as overhunting for meat and seeking out the biggest and strongest trophies instead of targeting the sick or old as occurs in nature.

In Africa, 100 thousand elephants were poached from 2010-12 and the western black rhino was declared extinct in 2011 according to the study. In the poaching industry their horns are worth more than gold, diamonds and cocaine. But without the herbivores, there will be ecological consequences. During his first visit to Washington DC, Prince William spoke at the World Bank about the situation.

“One of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today is the illegal wildlife trade. Here, criminal gangs turn vast profits from illegal killing or capture of wildlife. Armed groups and terrorists swap poached ivory for guns. And middlemen oil the wheels of the trade in return for reward. Together they loot our planet to feed mankind’s ignorant craving for exotic pets, trinkets, cures and ornaments to writhe from the worlds vanishing and irreplaceable species. […]

“As we consider the growing threat to wildlife, the corrosive impact of the trade on human dignity and development worldwide, and all the means we have at our disposal to combat it, we should be utterly determined to see this go through to success. […]

“I am determined not to let the world’s children grow up on a planet where our most iconic and endangered species have been wiped out, impoverishing us all. I hope you will join me.”

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