Conservation in the Time of Coronavirus
“Cherish the natural world because you’re a part of it and you depend on it” – David Attenborough
Conservation in Crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world as we know it upside down. From jobs, to schooling, to hobbies, to travel and movement restrictions, there’s hardly a corner of modern life that hasn’t been touched. As the foundations of society continue to shift, global focus has been (as it should) on healthcare and stabilising economies. Around the world, conservationists are warning that some of the world’s most important ecosystems are in crisis as the ecotourism industry collapses.
Why is Ecotourism So Important?
Ecotourism may sound like an activity designed for wealthy foreigners, but according to the United Nations Development Programme, travel and tourism account for 10.3% of the global GDP, with wildlife tourism contributing a further 0.4%. This sector contributes more to the global GDP than agriculture, and supports over 21.8 million jobs across the world. African countries – which are some of the fastest-growing regions in the world for tourism – could lose as many as 2 million jobs directly and indirectly caused by the pandemic.
Protecting Africa’s Wildlife
Many rangers in tourist hotspots have lost their incomes, leaving wildlife vulnerable. While the sale of horns and tusks is down, the demand for bushmeat has risen in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, the DRC, Liberia and The Central African Republic. According to Andrew Campbell, CEO of the Game Rangers Association of Africa, “We can assume that this is a result of the devastating economic impact the pandemic has had on livelihoods and that people are becoming desperate for food in these areas.”
What Can You Do?
- If you have a trip planned, postpone your trip to 2021 instead of cancelling. This assists businesses with cash flow and helps stimulate the local economy.
- Raise awareness about the pandemic’s impact on conservation by sharing this article and others like it.
- Purchase gift cards and/or vouchers from local artisans, artists and hospitality services.