Elephants, rhinos, antelopes... are also indirect victims of the pandemic Covid-19. The wildlife in africa is threatened by the resurgence of acts of poaching. The tourists are not there anymore. In parks and reserves, deserted by the continent, in Kenya, Botswana, South Africa or in Tanzania, lions have more right to gusts of photos of the tourists who come to admire in nature-so-called Big Five, i.e. the five large mammals of the african fauna : elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and buffalos.
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Rise of the offences
In spaces normally frequented by foreign tourists and thus considered as protected for the wild animals, cases of poaching are increasing. "Imagine ! With the Covid, everything is closed. You have no more money to pay the bills and surveillance teams have been reduced. You have less people on the ground and no tourists. The lodges are closed, " explains Sabrina Colombo, ranger for Leo Africa, an NGO specializing in the conservation in South Africa based in the national Park Marakele. "In the parks and reserves, the human presence is so much lower than what we have in normal times, but it is much easier for the poachers to operate," she continued.
In South Africa, the organisation's Rhino 911, which is dedicated to safeguarding rhinos, reports of more incidents. The organization was launched at the end of June a large-scale operation to cut the horns of rhinos, and an attempt to deter poachers. The horn will resell it more expensive than gold, up to 55 000 euros per kilo ! It is the object of a traffic that falls under the organized crime. Made of keratin, like hair and nails, rhino horn is used in Asia, especially in China and Vietnam, to supposedly cure cancer and other diseases.
If the past year, South Africa had managed to reduce by 23 % the number of rhinos killed, containment, and the collapse of the tourism economy could be flat all the efforts to save the species.
In Botswana, there is grave concern that eliminating these animals. In at least two years, 56 rhino have been killed. According to experts, in the Okavango delta, where almost the entire wild population of rhinos, it is still more than a handful. The government has started to remove the horns and even apart of the Okavango delta where it is difficult to protect, according to the agency Bloomberg.
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No tourists, no income
" Since march 24, we stopped our activity. With volunteers who come from all over the world, we provide monitoring services and observation of the animals. But without them, without funding, we cannot provide these services on the ground. The team has been reduced by half ", explains Sabrina Colombo. In South Africa, in early June, the parks have been reopened to local visitors. For foreign tourists, it will have to wait, probably 2021... an eternity.
In Kenya, the containment arrived at the beginning of April, but the difficulties began as early as the beginning of the year, with the drastic drop in the number of tourists from China, Europe and the United States. The sector lags already a shortfall of $ 750 million (664 million euros) for this year, which is half of the income for the whole of 2019, according to the ministry of Tourism. Safaris nearly a million jobs, of jobs, of course threatened. If this were to continue, the very existence of some reserves may be threatened, according to Mohanjeet Brar, director-general of the Porini safari camps, interviewed by AFP. In Tanzania, lack of budget, already more than a third of the guards ' anti-poaching have been fired.
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Quest for bush meat
The containment has literally suspended the economy. A lot of people do earn more in their life, fall into poverty. Poachers looking for bush meat, to eat or to sell on the local market, from local communities, most often in close proximity to reserves. "They lay traps in strategic places. But it is disastrous, because these traps do not target the specific animals. Any animal can be caught in the trap, antelopes such as cheetah or impala. Most of the time, the poachers do not even have the time to come pick up the trapped animal. This is an illegal trade of bush meat. But it is also a mess, a loss of animals. Poaching is a real threat to biodiversity ", laments Sabrina Colombo. It also evokes the traditional beliefs and witchcraft that use some animal parts in their potions, for example, the eyes of the vultures would see the future.
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In the French overseas Africa also
In Mayotte, the turtles are victims of poaching. The NGO Sea Shepherd, who has established the mission Nyamba, aiming to protect the sea turtles on the island, regrets the repeated acts of poaching. On the beach of Moya, one of the main spawning grounds on the island, every day, new bodies are discovered. This is not the only site affected. Reports of butchered turtles are made all around the island. The extension of the state of health emergency on the island until October 30, concerned the associations of protection of nature.
The traffic of endangered species is the fourth largest illegal trade in the most important thing in the world. According to the monitoring network Traffic, it would generate between 15 and 20 billion dollars each year. Small satisfaction, the customs in south africa were seized on July 14, dozens of rhino horns to a value of 6 million euros at the international airport of Johannesburg. Not a reassuring picture of the situation on the spot.
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