Due to illegal poaching, all species of rhino are threatened with extinction. (© Rod Mast)
These efforts are well organized and multinational, involving organized crime and terror networks, making illegal wildlife trafficking the fourth-most lucrative global crime, worth between $8 billion and $10 billion per year.
That's why seven international conservation organizations including Conservation International have come together to work with the Duke of Cambridge and the Royal Foundation through an effort called United for Wildlife. The purpose: to bring coordinated action to educate, disrupt and reduce demand for iconic wildlife species on the brink of collapse, including the lion, rhino, elephant and pangolin.
A few days ago, I was asked to appear on MSNBC to speak about the death of Cecil. The key point I wanted to convey is that while bad hunting practices and poor enforcement of regulations are harmful to wildlife, the real challenge with conserving iconic species in Africa hinges on tackling large-scale poaching - efforts organized by cartels and terror networks. The scale is truly unprecedented, and if it continues, even legal hunting will be in danger.