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Prince William Slams ‘Vicious Form Of Criminality’ During Visit To China

<p><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidrosenphotography/14711027415/in/photolist-opXRVH-xQ9S6-4EueX6-5mhCTm-662rdZ-5ttdFu-8HvrRP-569ezT-4Etvhg-4aXPm3-4Etu4g-bXevWh-68vath-q7QKJk-e1opzS-3iJrkN-bNNyRa-fBiuNv-6o7uGo-rBAav-jDurXL-bDsXEB-996FJA-8RM7T6-6YJcaH-5933tq-3ueHvN-7MWeoa-mjyvSN-6grj82-bDsWmR-4HokX9-bkbgC1-qwFx8-fC2o6P-bqy3sY-8RM7J8-8PDZXN-7Xq1Ub-bqy35o-qxYGvw-bqy2A3-9YXtwQ-6TREos-absRDT-c2foK5-8V3YUJ-8Hyz2E-84h3Bz-izKAw9">Flickr/David Rosen</a></p>

Prince William has arrived in China with elephants at the top of his agenda.

The Duke of Cambridge became the first senior British royal to travel to China in a generation on Sunday, and on Wednesday he visited the Xishuangbanna Elephant Sanctuary in Yunnan Province. The prince, who has long been a campaigner for anti-poaching measures and conservation, gave a speech carefully complimenting the Chinese government for its recent efforts, but also calling for more action to save elephants.

"It is appalling that elephants - and many others - may be extinct in the wild in our lifetimes," Prince William said at the sanctuary, according to the Guardian. Scientists have warned that without conservation efforts, elephants could be extinct by 2020.

"The greatest threat to elephants worldwide today is not local farmers protecting their livelihoods, it is ruthless and organized poaching and trafficking."

Referring to the poaching industry's ties to drug trafficking and criminal activity, the prince called it a "vicious form of criminality" that "erodes the rule of law, fuels conflict and may even fund terrorism."

In China, the ivory capital of the world, he focused on the demand for ivory trinkets and tusks. "Demand provides traffickers with their incentive," he said. "It fuels their greed, and generates their vast profits."

"Ultimately, ending demand for ivory is down to citizens across the world," William told a conference in Yunnan province, AP reports.

Although Prince William has faced some criticism from animal advocates for hunting, he's been an outspoken advocate for conservation for endangered species, appearing in several PSAs to spread awareness about the real cost of elephant ivory and rhino horn.