EXCLUSIVE: Obama acts on wildlife after Prince William’s plea

US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and National Security Agency, will now become involved in targeting the £15billion-a-year black market.

It paves the way for pilotless drones to be used to track poaching gangs who have decimated endangered species such as the black rhino.

Using the resources of the CIA and its army of spies will give US officials a major advantage in their fight against the traffickers. They will be able to track their movements by monitoring phone calls and emails.

Pressure will also be brought on Asian countries, particularly China, where most of the rhino horns, ivory and other items are exported. A record 1,020 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year. Mr Obama’s announcement comes just weeks after his meeting with William at the White House.

During his visit to the US with wife Kate last December, the 32-year-old Prince announced he was forming a royal task force to help stamp out the illegal trade by working with airlines and shipping companies. In a speech in Washington, he accused poachers of “looting our planet”.

John Crudden, of the US Wildlife Service, said: “Illegal wildlife trafficking has become one of the most profitable types of organised crime and its impact has been devastating. Some species are facing extinction.”

William’s spokesman said he welcomed the US initiative and was “very pleased” to have raised the topic with Mr Obama during his visit.

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