The co-founder and CEO of charity Tusk has told CNBC that the shutdown of the tourism industry in Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an economic crisis which is impacting conservation in the region.
Charles Mayhew, who is based in the U.K., co-founded the charity in 1990, with a mission to “amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa.” It was started in response to the poaching crisis throughout the 1980s which saw up to 100,000 elephants killed annually, and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, became the charity’s Royal Patron in 2005.
Tourism and safaris play a crucial role in financially supporting local workers, communities and wildlife conservation projects, and often pay for rangers to protect both species and land in Africa. However, the sector has been hit hard as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which seen international travel come to a halt.
Mayhew, who among other roles was formerly an insurance broker in the City of London, told CNBC the impact of the coronavirus had been “absolutely enormous.”
“The reality on the ground in Africa is such that the economic impact and crisis that has flowed from the pandemic has been really significant, mainly because tourism and the travel industry has absolutely shut down, it fell off a cliff, when we all went into lockdown,” he said.
Madikwe game reserve, Safari, African elephant, South Africa.
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He stressed that although Africa had not had as many coronavirus infections as elsewhere in the world, the economic impact had been “huge” and led to many people losing their jobs.