If you take nature conservation seriously, the best way to support important nature conservation initiatives is through a safari.
The loss of tourism revenue is worrying for nature reserves and parks across Africa. The lives of animals and the livelihood of rangers and guides, as well as their extended families and local communities that rely on tourism, are under threat.
It’s a popular social media theme these days – animals enjoy the space that is new to them when people stay at home. Lions that spread out on tarred roads in the Kruger, or giraffes that use golf courses to stretch their legs.
The truth is far more complicated. Most nature reserves are heavily dependent on tourism, both to run the parks and to fund efforts to conserve and combat poaching. With the Covid 19 pandemic increasing and many countries imposing bans, this income has dried up. Conservationists and park managers are now expressing deep concern that wildlife and local communities will pay a high price.
“Anything that has a horn or a tusk right now is at greater risk than a month ago,” said Matt Brown, regional director for Africa for non-profit in the United States Conservation.
The problem is twofold. Lack of money flowing into parks can cause rangers to be fired or faced with fuel and other bottlenecks, making it more difficult for them to do their jobs. In addition, the increasing economic slowdown is making poaching more attractive to local desperate and poor people.
The sudden drop in sales is a problem in almost all nature reserves and parks in Africa. Even if the travel situation improves by July, the entire high season will be largely lost as international visitors tend to book trips well in advance. This means that budgeted earnings from the safari industry, much of which is dedicated to wildlife conservation and conservation management, are falling. Wildlife and those dedicated to protection will pay a high price. ‘
The message is clear: in addition to diversifying conservation funding when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, continue on safari. Some operators are better than others – always ask how much of the maintenance and park management fee is used. Safari tourism is important. It makes a big difference for the people who live with wild animals, the people who are involved in nature conservation and contribute to the protection of wild animals.
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