Poaching threats loom as wildlife safaris put on hold due to COVID-19
Official lockdowns and the loss of tourism revenue create new challenges for protecting the continent’s wildlife.
Peter Meshemi says he’s frightened. For the past 12 years he’s worked as an armed ranger in northern Kenya, spending weeks at a time patrolling scrubby grasslands in search of poachers. Now, even as he’s constantly on high alert to protect vulnerable elephants, lions, and leopards that are targeted illegally by hunters at Loisaba Conservancy, he and his 70 fellow rangers have an added worry: protecting themselves against coronavirus.
“We are scared of it,” he says. “The whole world is scared.”
On April 8, Kenya reported a cumulative total of 172 cases of COVID-19 and six deaths. Two days earlier, the government had instituted a lockdown policy that bars most travel in and out of Nairobi County, where the majority