BEIJING – The southwestern province of Yunnan was the last stop in Prince William’s four-day trip to China, which he concluded with a visit Wednesday to an elephant sanctuary in support of wildlife and environment conservation.
The Duke of Cambridge visited the premises of the sanctuary, located in Xishuangbanna, and fed a carrot to one of the elephants named Ran Ran, a 13-year-old female living in the sanctuary since 2005.
The Chinese government has several elephant conservation projects, having around 250 wild elephants in the tropical region of Yunnan.
The second-in-line to the British throne, who heads a number of charitable organizations and firmly opposes the illegal ivory trade, spoke to a few residents of the region about how they adapt to living in close proximity to the wild elephants.
He also discussed matters related to conservation of the species with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing two days earlier, a week after Chinese authorities banned the import of ivory products to China.
This ban came after several organizations reported that the Chinese demand for ivory was severely depleting the population of elephants in Africa.
Among the petitioners to the government was British environmentalist David Attenborough, along with 70 other prominent figures who implored the Chinese President to put an end to the ivory trade and educate the people of China about the real costs of the industry in terms of animal life.
Prince William told Jinping on Monday that he hoped that China would become a world leader in wildlife conservation, the Xinhua official agency reported.
This visit to China, the first one by a member of the British royal family in almost three decades, included a meeting with the Chinese president, a visit to Shanghai and finally a trip to southern China.
The prince focused on promoting cultural and economic relations with Chine, and expressed his support towards initiatives ranging from soccer training sessions with Chinese youth by former British professional players to the campaign against ivory contraband.
Moreover, the visit served to improve ties between the two countries, following tensions caused by pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in late 2014, and Prince Charles’s well-known affinity with the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing refuses to acknowledge as the political and spiritual leader of Tibet.