Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe president Emmanuel Fundira says the country’s wildlife resource is now at risk of poachers as there are not enough resources for anti-poaching programs due to effects of COVID-19.
COVID-19 which has ravaged the world killing many people while keeping billions indoors has seen most people who had booked holidays and hunting cancelling due to uncertainty over the pandemic.
These cancellations, according to Fundira means that operators will not have enough resources for conservation programs, at a time when the country is coming from a crippling drought that killed many animals.
In a statement, Fundira said “The COVID-19 pandemic does not bode well with conservation efforts, in particular most if not all anti-poaching programs are now grossly under resourced and thereby placing our wildlife resource at risk.
“Already Zimbabwe is witnessing a spike in poaching including human-wildlife conflict due to the sudden decline in tourism revenue.
“The concern is how Operators in these areas maintain the effectiveness of their wildlife patrolling and security when about 90% of their planned revenue for the year has now dropped to zero,” he said.
According to Fundira, the known cancellations to date are close to 90% (the equivalent of 8000 hunting days) booked for 2020.
He said “this is revenue running close to US$100 million already lost which means the remaining US$10m worth of business may not be salvaged in this calendar year unless the spread is halted.
“…Be that as it may, and in order to mitigate against a prevailing dire situation we continue to advise operators to persuade international clients to postpone bookings to a future date including rescheduling to 2021 season,” he said.
Zimbabwe is famed for its pristine wildlife which has been attracting a lot of tourists to the country thereby earning the much needed foreign currency.
According to Campfire Annual Report 2018, more than 800 000 households depend directly on wildlife utilization