Prince Charles, Prince William

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Prince William and his dad Prince Charles are standing up for endangered species.

The Duke of Cambridge and Prince of Wales kicked off a conference Tuesday they were hosting at St. James Palace in London seeking an end to the illegal wildlife trade that is fueling the extinction of fauna worldwide, including the African elephant and the black rhino.

"My fear is that one of two things will stop the illegal trade: either we take action to stem the trade; or we will run out of the animals," Kate Middleton's husband said in his opening remarks. "There is no other outcome possible."

"I sincerely hope that my generation is not the first on this planet to consider elephants, rhinos or tigers as historical creatures—in the same category as the Dodo," he continued. "These creatures are still with us, their magnificence more wonderful than anything we could ever create in our imaginations, and they enrich our world immeasurably. Their majesty contrasts to the ugliness of the illegal trade that destroys them through greed or ignorance."

The 30-year-old royal, who has long been interested in conservation issues (he and Prince Harry went on safari in Botswana in 2010 to raise awareness of the issue) and serves as a patron for the charity Tusk Trust, expressed hope his foundation can encourage young people to push for stricter protections for at-risk species, including halting the ivory trade that is decimating the rhino population.

Per Sky News, one solution being discussed by conference delegates—which include representatives from environmental organizations, the U.N. and Interpol—is dropping the word "poaching" and instead referring to the problem as "trafficking" given evidence that international crime networks, terrorists and militia groups are increasingly behind the illegal activities.

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