LONDON Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, and his son Prince William have made a video plea urging people around the world to support efforts to stop illegal wildlife trade.
The British government is due to host an international conference on the trade, estimated to be worth more than 6 billion pounds ($9.8 billion) a year, on February 13 in London.
In the 9-minute video, filmed in November at Charles's London home Clarence House and broadcast on Sunday, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth describes the trade as having reached "unprecedented levels of killing and related violence".
"It now poses a grave threat not only to the survival of some of the world's most treasured species, but also to economic and political stability in many areas around the world," he said.
Britain's Sun newspaper reported William and his brother Harry had spent the weekend hunting deer and wild boar on a private estate in Spain, a trip that some criticised as ill-timed ahead of the launch of William and Charles's campaign.
William, patron since 2005 of the conservation charity the Tusk Trust, is no stranger to blood sports, with the royals holding an annual Christmas shoot on the family's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, in eastern England.
A spokesman for Prince William declined to comment specifically on the trip to Spain but said the prince had been a "passionate advocate for endangered wildlife" for many years.
"(He) has campaigned tirelessly to help stop the illegal poaching of rhino horn and elephant tusk. His track record in this area speaks for itself," he said.
In the video, Charles and William speak in Arabic, Vietnamese, Swahili, Spanish and Mandarin in a bid to get their message across to as many people as possible.
The London conference, at which Charles is due to speak, is aimed at strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products and supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities involved in the trade.
It will focus particularly on elephants, rhinos and tigers. Rhino horn is now worth more than gold and platinum, with a rhino killed by a poacher every 10 hours.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan)