The sudden plummet in tourist arrivals to wildlife destinations across Africa has not only lead to huge loss of earnings and unemployment on a massive scale in the tourism sector but also highlighted the reliance that conservation has on tourism.
Most African countries rely on two areas to keep their conservation programmes running.
- The revenues from fees and leases paid by the private sector that utilise national parks and concessions
- The help they receive from charities
Many tourists contribute to, and support conservation-based charities and more often than not were influenced to do so following their safari experience.
Following the downturn in the economy, we have all been forced to cut back and donations to charity have been for many, the first cut back to be made.
A survey carried out by the Small International Development Charities Network covering the period June 2020 to 6th August has highlighted the plight that charities face. The survey asked small charities working overseas (defined here as charities with an income of less than £1 million) about how COVID-19 has impacted them. There were 53 responses and the key findings from the research are:
- 45% of charities working overseas will have to close this year without additional funding.
- 15% of charities working overseas will have to close within six months without additional funding.
- 77% of charities surveyed say that COVID-19 is already affecting their finances in this financial year.
- 59% said they had already or were currently accessing their reserves during the pandemic.
- 72% of charities surveyed said they had an increased demand for their services during the pandemic.
- 57% of charities surveyed said they have had to postpone programmes/projects during the pandemic.
- 66% of charities surveyed say they are responding to COVID-19 directly and a further 23% say they are responding in part.
- 64% of charities have found new ways to deliver services.
- Just 11% of charities say that they have been able to continue their work overseas as normal.
This is a sobering thought when we look at how reliant African wildlife and conservation is on charity support. The impact on the management of wildlife areas is incalculable. On the frontline are the rangers, the first line of defence that protects many of our endangered species and sadly money for their vital work is slowly running out.
Ride 4 Rangers is an initiative of the African travel industry. By embarking on a cumulative 30,000km bike ride, they are raising funds and creating awareness of the problems faced by Africa’s rangers. Ride4Rangers is part of the Global Wildlife Ranger Challenge, both are supported by the Scheinberg Relief Fund. The fund is matching every dollar donated, thus doubling any contributions made. A truly amazing gesture by Mark and his family.
The Talkingstickglobal.com plea is simple: get on your bike, lace up your trainers and get involved. Every contribution helps. When we get back to Africa or can send our clients there again, the rangers, the custodians of our heritage, will be there to greet us once again.