David Beckham has united with Prince William and the retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming to campaign against the illegal ivory trade that is pushing endangered species of rhino and elephant to the brink of extinction.
The retired Manchester United and Real Madrid star has joined a list of celebrities also including Fight Club and American History X actor Edward Norton in filming public service announcements to protest against the poaching of Africa’s endangered pachyderms.
The adverts will go out this later this year as part of a campaign organised by a number of conservation charities.
Beckham may be relatively new to conservation work, but he is in experienced company. Norton is the president of the US board of the Massai Wilderness Conservation Trust, and has been named as a UN goodwill ambassador for preserving biodiversity.
Ex-Houston Rockets player Yao Ming also has a history of supporting wildlife causes. He has been involved in the production of a documentary on the Northern White Rhinoceros, and has also recently lent his name to campaigns calling for an end to the fishing of sharks.
On Thursday, Prince William announced that he was retiring from military service to concentrate on charity work, in particular focusing on conservation.
The Prince has spearheaded ‘United for Wildlife,’ an alliance of seven of the world’s largest conservation organisations, whose first mission is tackling the illegal ivory trade.
On an interview broadcast on ITV on Sunday, Prince William’s eyes welled up with tears when shown pictures of rhinos killed by poachers, with their horns hacked off to be sold illegally.
Speaking on Thursday, Prince William said, “The threats to our natural heritage are extensive, but I believe that this collaboration of the best minds in conservation will provide the impetus for a renewed commitment to action to protect endangered species and habitats for future generations.
“At the root of the illegal wildlife trade, for example, is the demand for products that require the death of tens of thousands of these animals every year, pushing them further towards extinction.
“We must work together to prevent this catastrophe and allow our children the opportunity to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms.”