Is COVID-19 Impacting Rhinos?
The short answer is not directly. But indirectly, the impact of COVID-19 on rhinos in both the long and short term could be devestating.
The whole world is currently living through some of the most challenging times for generations. There is no doubt that the global COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact each and every one of our lives.
This impact is unprecedented, but what does COVID-19 mean for rhinos? At first glance, you may think that this coronavirus does not impact the life of these majestic icons of the plains. After all, as far as we know today, a rhino cannot catch COVID-19, but dig a little deeper and the reality is that this pandemic could have catastrophic implications for the rhino.
In February this year, the South African Government reported the official number of rhino poached in 2019 fell for 4th consecutive year, although as we highlighted in our report at the time, more information is needed to truly analyse these numbers. In March this year the IUCN reported that the wild population of African black rhino had increased slightly to 5,630.
If poaching is down, and in some cases, populations of rhino are increasing, why is COVID -19 such a problem for rhinos?
To answer this, we must first remind ourselves that virtually all rhino on the planet now only survive in National Parks, Game Reserves or Conservancies. The protection of these rhino, and the significant costs associated with it, is the responsibility of the organisations running these wild spaces. These organisations rely heavily on tourism, often from foreign nationals, to fund the majority of their operating costs. These include anti-poaching operations, fence patrols, APU dog units, ecology studies, veterinarian work, Ranger patrols, animal welfare studies and so much more. All of this is at risk if there is a lack of funding.
"The COVID-19 pandemic that has paralysed the world is a stark reminder of our disconnect from nature and our reliance on its ecosystems for support and services.
We rely on goodwill and the philanthropic efforts of individuals, in many instances events of more than 100 people gathering to hear our plight and support our cause."
Francois Du Toit
CEO, African Conservation Trust
and Project Rhino Ambassador
With many international travel restrictions now in place, the millions of tourism dollars have almost instantly dried up. These are funds that were used to provide protection for our rhino. Without this funding, organisations responsible for protecting rhino will look to support from NGO’s around the world, many of whom raise significant income through fundraising events. This is another tap that has temporarily been switched off thanks to the now all familiar phrases ‘social distancing’ and ‘ban on social gatherings’. And finally, philanthropic individuals who support rhino conservation will undoubtably be impacted by the biggest fall in the world’s financial markets for more than 35 years. This is extremely likely to lessen the amount of available cash to support charities and conservation projects.
Visit out 'About Helping Rhinos' page to see how funding underpins all other focus areas of rhino conservaton.
With a severe lack of funding, it is very possible, and indeed likely, that poaching gangs will take the opportunity to strike while the world’s focus is elsewhere.
It is clear that rhino still need our help, quite possibly more now than at any time in the last 5 years. They need more protection at a time when funding of the resources providing that protection is at greater risk than at any other time in the last 50 years.
How You Can Help Rhinos and How Rhinos Can Help You
There are several ways that that you can help to protect rhinos while at the same time, those same rhinos can help you through the difficult times of self-isolation and social distancing.
We recognise that finances are tight during these times of great uncertainty. We also recognise that the natural world has great therapeutic powers and can significantly help with mental wellbeing.
Switch to HORNi Coffee
Even in these most challenging times, most of you will still be enjoying a daily cup of coffee or two. By switching to HORNi Coffee you will be playing your part in protecting rhino in their natural habitat.
And the best and part of switching to HORNi Coffee is that you can easily make a difference while you are self isolating! Simply visit the HORNi Coffee online store, place your order and we will deliver it straight to your door step.
Reschedule, Don’t Cancel!
Do you have a safari holiday booked that you cannot now go on because of the ongoing travel restrictions? If you do, please consider rescheduling your holiday and not cancelling it.
If you cancel your trip completely you may be entitled to a refund, meaning the location where you booked your safari to would have to pay out the cost of your holiday. If you reschedule your trip it will most definitely help your safari destination channel their funds to keeping their wildlife safe.
It can also help with your mental wellbeing! Knowing you have a safari holiday planned will give you something to look forward to – a light shining brightly at the end of the tunnel.