Prince William Visits Vietnam to Join Fight Against Poaching Endangered Animals

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visits Hong Ha Primary School on Lan Ong Street on the first day of an official visit on November 16, 2016 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Fighting to save wildlife. Prince William has taken his campaign to end illegal trade of animal parts all the way to Vietnam for a two-day visit.

On Wednesday, November 16, the Duke of Cambridge traveled to the world's busiest country for trafficking of wildlife products, including rhino horn used in traditional medicines. William's aim during the short trip is to inform local people about how they can protect endangered animals who are targeted for their ivory.

One of the prince's first visits in the capital of Hanoi was to Hong Ha Primary School, where many of the kids have parents who practice traditional medicine.

William, 34, sat down with the school's pupils and read from I'm A Little Rhino, a children's book released by the Vietnamese government to educate about the lack of proven effect rhino horn has as medicine and how much of a threat poaching is to the future of rhinos.

Afterward, the father of Prince George and Princess Charlotte was invited to a traditional medicine store on Lang Ong Street, Hanoi's biggest hub for traditional medicine. There, he spoke to a local pharmacist about their work to end the use of rhino horn and other products in medicine.

At night he met with Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the presidential palace. A Kensington Palace spokeswoman tells Us Weekly, "[William] said he was looking forward to hearing what Vietnam was doing to tackle the challenges presented by the illegal wildlife trade."

While many of the animals are actually poached in Africa, Vietnam is known as one of the world's main stops for trafficking illegal animal parts. William is patron of the conservation organization Tusk Trust and also a president of United For Wildlife, which works with a number of the world's biggest conservation groups.

Last weekend, ahead of the Third Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade on November 17, Vietnamese authorities crushed and burned more than two tons of seized elephant ivory and rhino horns, urging the public to stop consuming illegal wildlife products. The seized goods — worth more than $7 million on the black market — came from 23 rhinos and 330 African elephants that were slaughtered by poachers.

As well as medicinal use (it has long been believed that rhino horn can cure cancer), ivory is also used to make handcrafts and jewelry, which tourists often buy without knowing the devastating stories behind the products and how they are driving several species toward extinction.

Says a Kensington Palace rep of Prince William, "He knows the people of Vietnam will share his concern that we have less than 25 years to save some of our most iconic species from extinction. He believes Vietnam has a real opportunity to be leaders in wildlife conservation."

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