***Update*** Read Will’s report on the meeting here
Dear Friends of Wildlife
Big Question 1:
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? The irresistible force of millions of people who are deeply concerned about the future of wildlife and the impact of poaching and illegal trade including HRH Prince of Wales, HRH Duke of Cambridge, our UK Government Ministers, the Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, current Secretary of State John Kerry, Virginia McKenna, Brian May, Nicky Campbell, Zac Goldsmith, Born Free supporters (and me!), meets the immovable object of demand for ivory, rhino horn, lion and tiger body parts, bear gall bladders, shark fins …….
The answer is can we prove that the object is no longer immovable; we can persuade the Chinese Polit Bureau to demonstrate global leadership and set aside tradition in favour of conservation; we can work with governments in Africa and the rangers, wardens and forest guards to deliver on-the-ground protection wherever it is needed; we can train and support customs officers to effectively intercept wildlife crime (along with drugs and guns and people and more); we can support the judiciary in the application of deterrent sentences to make sure that crime doesn’t pay; we can educate consumers so that they understand that elephant teeth do not just ‘fall out’; that rhino are dying in their hundreds for bogus cancer cures; that tigers face extinction so the wealthy can ‘show off’ and buy tiger bone wine; that wild lion numbers have halved in 30 years and exports of lion skeletons from South Africa to Lao PDR are up 10,000% since 2009; that thousands of bears endure a lifetime of deranged suffering so that some people can drink their putrid bile; that one hundred million sharks a year die for soup.
Tomorrow (21st May 2013) Prince Charles, Prince William, UK Government Ministers, including Owen Paterson and Richard Benyon, will set aside a day to put illegal wildlife crime at the top of the political agenda so that it becomes an irresistible force for good.
I will be there with Virginia and I will report back. Is it a tipping point? I hope so. If it isn’t it may be too late for some.
PS Ooops! Nearly forgot Big Question 2. I am down to appear on The Big Questions next Sunday (2nd June) at 10.oo am on BBC1 talking about the plight of wild animals. Tune in or set the recorder if you get a chance.