BBC travel presenter Simon Reeve warns that the lockdown has left animals vulnerable to poachers – even in parks and conservancies
- Many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off
- This is leaving endangered animals unprotected and poaching has increased
- Rhinos have been killed in Africa in tourist areas considered safe havens
BBC travel presenter Simon Reeve, who says many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off, leaving endangered animals unprotected
On the face of it, the lockdown should benefit nature.
With humans stuck inside, pollution levels are plummeting, coyotes are retaking empty streets in San Francisco and goats are strolling nonchalantly through Llandudno in Wales.
Yet, sadly, many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off, leaving endangered animals unprotected.
Poaching is already increasing in some areas. Rhinos have been killed in southern Africa, in tourist areas normally considered safe havens.
So when tourism does return, why not book a ‘wild holiday’?
From bear rehabilitation centres in Vietnam and Laos to orangutan sanctuaries in Malaysia, fish-breeding coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and game reserves in Africa, cash from overseas visitors can make a difference.
At sea, less money now means fewer patrol boats monitoring reefs and marine protected areas.
The result is more illegal fishing, stripping out vital creatures that help to keep our oceans in balance.
On land, without rangers, the hunt for ‘bushmeat’ is another threat, and there are concerns that farmers will take areas of national parks for crops and cattle.
I also know, from first-hand experience at the incredible Kicheche camps in Kenya, that to visit them is like stepping into the Garden of Eden: elephants, hyenas, leopards, baboons, topis and elands.
Simon says that rhinos have been killed in southern Africa, in tourist areas normally considered safe havens (file picture)
The camps are an important employer, too, with scores of staff providing for family members as well as funding schools and healthcare. A collapse in visitor numbers is a disaster for these parts of the Maasai Mara.
It’s a good idea during lockdown to research future visits to some of the world’s spectacular conservation camps.
If you find a trip that’s right for you, put a deposit down: it will be a start.
After the virus has gone, go wild! And help protect great apes, big cats and other endangered life on this planet, as well as supporting communities.
- Simon Reeve’s television adventures are on BBC iPlayer. Step By Step, his autobiography, is available from bookshops and online.