Timed to coincide with a four-day state visit to England by President Xi Jinping, William pulled few punches with a televised appeal on Chinese TV.
“We know the illegal ivory trade can’t be solved by governments alone,” he told an estimated 100 million viewers.
“The spotlight falls back on all of us and the choices we have to make to play our part in addressing the problem.
“We have to accept the truth that consumers are driving the demand for animal body parts, for art, for trinkets, or for medicine.
“Only we as consumers can put the wildlife traffickers out of business. Let us not tell our children the sad tale of how we watched as the last elephants, rhinos, and tigers die out but the inspiring story of how we turned the tide and preserved them for all humanity.”
William has made fighting the illegal wildlife trade a major focus of his charity work.
He is patron of Tusk Trust which runs conservation projects in Africa.
William said that in the last year alone three rhinos were killed each day.
In the 33 years since he was born around 70% of Africa’s elephant population has died at the hands of poachers.
Of those that are left, 20,000 are being killed every year – that’s 54 each day.
“At this rate, children born this year – like my daughter Charlotte – will see the last elephants and rhinos die before their 25th birthday’s.
“My rejection of ivory today is not a judgment on past generations. It is an acceptance of the world as I find it today and the world I want my children, George and Charlotte, to inherit.
It’s the second emotional outpouring from the prince in recent days.
Speaking at Child Bereavement UK’s 21st anniversary event, William made a moving speech about the loss of his mother Princess Diana at he age of 36 when William was just 15.
Diana had been a tireless campaigner for the same charity before her death in a grisly car crash in 1997.
“What my mother recognised back then – and what I understand now – is that grief is the most painful experience that any child or parent can endure,” William said.
“But my mother was determined to help those in need.”
London-based royal watcher Robert Johnson says it’s great to see both William and Harry carry on their mother’s tireless charity work.
“Diana was a passionate campaigner and both William and Harry aren’t backward in coming forward either,” he told The Morning Show on Seven.
“Although, he will be king one day it doesn’t stop them having a hobby-horse, and these are all such great causes.”
Reporting by James Graham