Prince William to meet elephants on final day of China tour

Britain's Prince William gestures to the students as he attends the Premier Skills football coaching event at Nanyang Secondary School in Shanghai, China Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Prince William focused his China trip on promoting links between the countries in football and film Tuesday, watching students kick balls around with Premier League-trained coaches ahead of a movie premiere. (AP Photo)

BEIJING (AP) – Britain’s Prince William highlighted his interest in wildlife conservation Wednesday by making the final stop on his China tour an area in the country’s southwest that is home to wild Asian elephants.

The prince planned to spend Wednesday in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province, a tropical region bordering Myanmar and Laos that has been the focus of government efforts to stop poaching.

He was scheduled to travel to a village and hear people describe how they are adapting to living in close proximity to wild elephants, visit a nature reserve and meet injured elephants.

William, who regularly speaks out against wildlife trafficking, was expected to bring up the plight of African elephants, tens of thousands of which have been slaughtered in recent years to meet a surging appetite for ivory in Asia, primarily China.

Last week, China banned ivory imports for one year in the hope that would help reduce the demand for African tusks and protect wild elephants. There is still no ban on ivory trade within the country, and conservationists say legal sales provide cover for a thriving black market.

William told President Xi Jinping on Monday that he hopes China can become a world leader in the field of wildlife conservation, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. During their meeting, Xi explained China’s policies and work protecting elephants and other wild animals and told the prince that he hopes to strengthen international cooperation in this field.

William arrived in China on Sunday after a four-day trip to Japan. In Beijing, he met Chinese political leaders as well as young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – another issue close to his heart.

He crossed over into the business world in Shanghai and met entrepreneurs while launching a festival to promote British creativity and innovation. He also attended the China premiere of British-French film “Paddington.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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