Ebola takes toll on Africa wildife – ‘Without visitor income, there are simply insufficient funds to support conservation projects’Posted by Jim at Monday, November 10, 2014
By Pat Dickens
5 November 2014
(Wild News) – Since 1976, the Ebola virus has caused some lethal human epidemics in Central Africa. Unfounded fears that the pandemic is spread across the entire continent of Africa is having a disastrous effect on its wildlife.
Safari tourism has all but crashed. Camps are standing empty and staff are being sent home. This has left the wildlife in a state of peril as poaching is on the rise and conservation efforts stand in jeopardy.
69% of tourism operators polled revealed that the Ebola outbreaks have resulted in a marked decline in bookings, with no respite from the downturn foreseeable in the near future. More than half of the respondents registered cancellations due to Ebola fears.
The alarming loss of revenue has resulted in fewer funds available to pay for rangers and upkeep. An immediate increase in poaching activity has been recorded in both eastern and southern Africa, linking directly back to decreased tourism funds and park protection.
Jake Grieves-Cook, a former chairman of the Kenyan Tourism Federation, says tourism dollars go directly back into conservation projects and wages for rangers. "Without visitor income, there are simply insufficient funds to support this,” he said.
Another disturbing factor relates to how much revenue the land can produce. If people lose their jobs and the local economy cannot survive on tourism dollars alone, the workers need to turn to other ways of supporting their families. Natural habitat gets converted for agricultural purposes. Once this habitat has been destroyed to make way for an industrial crop such as tobacco, there is no going back. That leaves critically endangered animals facing one of the greatest threats to their survival; habitat loss.
As if the above were not frightening enough, loss of income from tourism has an easy solution. People formerly employed in conservation turn to poaching in order to survive. [more]