Lockdown: a dream for animals or a disaster?

Is the effect of lockdown on animals more complex than we might first expect?

Empty streets, free from cars and many other potential threats, may seem like the dream for animals, but for many at-risk species (such as rhinos) this lockdown threatens great danger.

Critically endangered animals rely heavily on humans to survive. Humans protect their habitats, food sources and fund conservation efforts. Now, with everyone shut indoors, we are no longer around to keep these vulnerable creatures safe.

This is causing the biggest problems in Africa, where the huge eco-tourism industry funds most of the conservation efforts to help save the rhinos. With a lack of tourists due to the lockdown, the eco-tourism industry is rapidly crumbling. As the industry collapses, an unanticipated consequence is that it takes with it the payment for security guards who protect the rhinos, leaving these innocent creatures to fend for themselves.

Not only are the rhinos now unprotected, but this lockdown has also led to an increase in poachers. Farmers, tourism workers and so many others have been hit hard by this pandemic and many are now struggling to provide for their family. For people in Africa who live near rhino habitats, poaching seems like an easy way out of financial distress. Without the deterrent of security guards, people are willing to risk getting caught in order to earn the money they need to survive.

Conservationists are warning that if this virus isn’t completely over within the next eighteen months, we may be waving goodbye to all rhinos in the wild.

Rosanagh, UIV