Covid-19 fallout leaves Kenyan nature reserves at risk
CAPE TOWN - Kenyan nature reserves, animals, and the people who protect and care for them are at risk due to the economic fallout of Covid-19, news broadcaster Al Jazeera reported.
Conservationists told the channel they feared that a continued ban on international travel and the resultant loss of income from the country's tourism industry could lead to the natural habitats of reserve animals being turned into farming land or used for property development to boost the economy.
The country temporarily banned international flights from March 25, two weeks after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.
Since that time, the tourism industry has ground to a halt.
Gamewatchers Safaris' guide Nicholas Koyieyo, who works with tourists wanting to see endangered animals, said he feared the worst.
“It’s a little bit worrying… I’m afraid lots of jobs are going to be lost,” he said.
Reuters reported in January that Kenya’s tourism revenue rose by 3.9% in 2019 due to an influx of tourists, bringing in USD 1.61 billion.
The income received via tourism in the east African country contributes to the salaries of game rangers and creates millions of jobs and funding for conservation.
With communities dependent on the income from tourism to sustain livelihoods, a loss of income created desperation and a need for other means of income.
David Githaiga, African conservation director at the Nature Conservancy, told Al Jazeera he was well aware of the depths Kenyans would have to go to due to the loss of income from tourism.
“Things like poaching… or you know cutting down of trees to supplement household income, and that is tied to the harsh economic realities [due to] Covid-19”.
The Nature Conservancy is an international non profit organisation that says it is committed to creating a world where people and animals can thrive.African News Agency