Conservationists fear that wildlife in South Africa could be the next victim of the coronavirus. With no tourists at the reserves, staff worry that poachers will take advantage of the lockdown as fewer people are watching the animals.
From 1 May, South Africa is due to begin easing its lockdown, however tourism is unlikely to regain momentum in the near future. Wildlife is the lifeblood of the country’s tourism industry, with the profits providing essential funds for the reserves.
Conservation programmes across Africa are now at risk, as future funding looks uncertain in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers and rangers are now concerned that poachers may be able to profit from the instability.
Protecting the wildlife
Anti-poaching is a job which never ends, even as the coronavirus pandemic brings the world to a standstill. Therefore rangers in the Balule Reserve haven't left their posts.
“We haven’t scaled back on our anti-poaching activities or wildlife security and conservation management," says Balule Reserve general manager Ian Nowak. "Our job is to protect [...] and we’ll carry on doing that, lockdown or not.”