GLOBAL E-RACE EXTINCTION
As the pandemic continues to halt tourism to Africa, poachers have become even more emboldened to encroach on protected lands. Now devoid of visitors and guides, travel hotspots are no longer serving as sanctuaries for iconic wildlife. Investigations demonstrate that keystone species like elephants are illegally poached at a rate of one animal per 15 minutes.
The African Development Bank approximates 9.1 million direct jobs arise from the travel and tourism sector across the continent. With an estimated 62.5 million annual visitors, the resulting $39.2 billion tourism industry is a cornerstone for local economies. Safari ride admissions and National Park fees serve as pivotal funding sources for many wildlife conservation initiatives. Tragically, the current rigid travel restrictions are dramatically increasing unemployment levels and devastating ecotourism. Desperation for income streams is causing a dramatic spike in poaching while leaving animals unprotected.
Prior to the pandemic, illegal wildlife trafficking already served as a lucrative criminal enterprise, with some estimates suggesting it brought in as much as $23 billion annually! One tragic example is that of a rhinoceros horn, which is more valuable by weight than cocaine, diamonds, or even gold. In some poaching hubs, a single pound of ground rhino horn fetches as much as $30,000 on the black-market and poaching of these treasured icons is projected to increase by 356% by the year 2030.