COVID-19 Crisis Threatens Years of Conservation Progress in Africa

Although the devastating consequences COVID-19 will most likely cause in Africa is still unknown, the collapse in tourism and other revenue is already threatening rural livelihoods and conservation efforts, and could lead to an increase in poaching and further habitat loss.

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We remain in regular contact with our partners in Africa, many of whom continue to struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The loss of tourism and donor income has impacted their ability to carry on their essential work during this crisis. Below are further recent comments from the field.

Click here to also see how the BBC News covered this story.

Malilangwe Trust, Zimbabwe

“We were in line to have the best year ever tourism-wise, and that has now gone to zero for the moment. Our budgets are impacted, and we have put some developmental projects on hold. Approximately 50% of our staff are not working, although we are fortunate that our anti-poaching and security teams are working at full capacity. Several of our community-based projects are also on hold, because of travel restrictions, school closures etc.”

Conservation South Luangwa, Zambia

“Tourism, like everywhere else has come to a grinding halt and it is going to remain like this for a long time. At this uncertain time when the lodges are quiet or closed, staff have been laid off, people are hungry, we are likely to see a big increase in poaching any day.”

VulPro, South Africa

“All volunteers have gone home and no further volunteers will join us until such a time the virus has been controlled, this is placing huge pressure on full time staff as they are already stretched. We are on lockdown to protect all we can and we are deeply concerned about staff and bird security at this time.”

Tsavo Trust, Kenya

“From a wildlife conservation perspective and focusing on Tsavo, tourism has collapsed overnight. This has meant that the mainstream revenue for Kenya Wildlife Service is no longer flowing. We will still operate, but at 50% capacity if we are to continue all the work that has so painstakingly taken to deliver over the last seven years.”

Painted Dog Conservation, Zimbabwe

“Cuts to our staff and salaries is the last thing we will consider. We employ 67 people, all from the local communities and it’s unthinkable that we would add to their struggles by reducing staff numbers or salaries. We will continue to play our part in supporting the local clinics, which play a vital role in disseminating information as much as anything else.”

Conservation Lower Zambezi, Zambia

“Tourism here plays a vital role to providing jobs and income to the very low-income community members. We worry that we may now begin to see a rise in poaching that we have been fighting hard to bring down.”

CLAWS Conservancy, Botswana

“Our primary worry during this time is poaching. With all of the tourist lodges closed and no staff patrolling the area, the furloughed and unemployed are home without easy access to food – so we are expecting a significant increase in poaching.”

Local Ocean Trust, Kenya

“We’re seeing COVID-19 having a big impact on increased pressures on the marine environment as people have lost jobs and will not be returning to jobs, as a result, there has been a massive influx of new persons now participating in fishing (legal and illegal) activities.”

Ruaha Carnivore Project, Tanzania

“We are very unlikely to be able to do anything like the amount of work we had planned during 2020, both in the Ruaha and Selous landscapes.”

Global Animal Health Tanzania, Tanzania

“If the suspension of activities continues then we will likely see a resurgence in disease impacts in and around the Serengeti ecosystem, such as outbreaks of rabies in people; and rabies, distemper or parvo virus impacts on wild carnivore species.”

Tusk’s work continues throughout this crisis, and we have launched our Crisis Appeal to ensure that vital Tusk funded programmes are able to survive the extreme challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis.

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