There are likely to be many unfortunate side-affects to the spread of the Coronavirus. It has taken many lives, ruined a great many more livelihoods and disrupted the pace of life the world over. With so many things to worry over, we have become quite tired of reading about the taint of this global pandemic.
Hopefully, we can bring you something more uplifting to read further down the line. In the meantime, however, this time of desperation has hit the animal world too. For those of us concerned with safeguarding the natural spaces of the earth, this is a story that warrants telling.
Socio-economic affects of a global downturn and damage to supply chains
Many Kenyans, especially those that live in rural parts of this country, live below the poverty line. For those that do, life can often seem to be a constant struggle to keep themselves and their families in shelter and sustenance.
Kenya, as many local residents will be aware, is currently under a partial lockdown in certain urban locations. With schools closed, general trade experiencing many and varied challenges, and regular travel affected, the everyday life of many Kenyans has changed drastically.
In one of our previous articles, we discussed the importance of our community engagement projects. The natural world cannot survive without considered cohabitation alongside humanity. It is dependent, to a certain extent, on our goodwill for its protection.
Recently, there are numerous reports of an upsurge in poaching across the continent. Those that might otherwise find nourishment or employment elsewhere are being forced to resort to poaching for their wellbeing. This is a sign of our desperate situation.
Poaching on the increase as tourism drops
Another unhappy consequence of this pandemic helps us better understand one of the more positive roles tourism plays in conservation. Conservationists in Botswana and South Africa have recently found that poaching, of rhinos in particular, is on the rise since tourists have left wildlife parks. What is most alarming for them is that the latest losses have happened in tourism hotspots. It is very possible that these animals will have survived if tour groups had been there, showing a presence in the area, and in so doing keeping an eye on them.
This is because tourism plays a crucial part in maintaining surveillance of high value species. Safari guides tend to know the movements of the park’s wildlife. It helps them locate the grandest and most exciting wildlife. It helps them give their clients the sights they hoped for.
With this knowledge, tour guides can locate herd of elephants and rhino often and then surround them with excited onlookers. This watchful throng of humanity protects the animals in many ways from poachers that might otherwise wish these animals harm for their own benefit.
Reduced operations in the air and on the ground
As the challenge to protect Tsavo’s wildlife becomes more difficult, we, unfortunately, have become less equipped to fight it. We have not been left unaffected by the global economic downturn that this pandemic has catalysed.
Unfortunately, the steady and life-giving stream of generous funding support we receive has been hit hard. As a result, we have been forced to reduce the number of men and vehicles deployed to the field to 3 mobile teams instead of 6. We have also reduced the monthly limit on our aerial reconnaissance and wildlife monitoring time, where previously we would average 75 hours, we now fly 40 to 50 hours per month, and this could be further reduced.
The Tsavo Trust is trying its utmost to maintain its many varying conservation support activities. However, with this pandemic developing and no end in sight, this becomes increasingly difficult for us to achieve.