Rhino poaching increases as COVID-19 shuts down tourism

A cemetery and memorial commemorated rhinos killed during the poaching epidemic at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. ©Ray in Manila

Rhinoceros poaching has increased in Africa as the novel coronavirus caused countries to announce national lockdowns that put a stop to big game tourism. The tourism industry motivates and funds wildlife conservation across the continent, and guides and guards help monitor wildlife and poachers. But since March 23, at least nine rhinos have been poached in one province of the country. And to the north, Botswana has reported at least six rhino deaths from poaching as well as two separate incidents in which the country’s military killed suspected poachers. The lack of tourists as well as the guides and guards that accompany them means that fewer people are around to monitor wildlife, increasing the vulnerability of some species to poachers. The loss in tourism revenue has also led to lay-offs and a downturn in the economy — a situation that could lead to an increase in poaching in coming months as people run out of options for feeding their families. 

Read more in The New York Times.