• 'We know that you understand our anxiety and worry for the future'
Conservationists have called for help to protect iconic species, saying the coronavirus pandemic is hurting the sector.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy on Wednesday said restrictive measures being put in place will hurt the tourism sector that largely contributes to the conservation of wildlife.
The conservancy, however, said they were taking precautions to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“Every one of our staff is safe right now and we are taking all the necessary precautions to keep it that way,” the conservancy said in a statement.
But it expressed concerns for the future, saying with no tourists, there won't be funds to run conservancies.
The government has already closed her borders and banned international flights to curb the spread of Covid-19. Kenya has confirmed 31 cases of the virus so far.
“While we know that the government is making the right decision to keep the people of Kenya safe and to curb the spread of infection, the impact this will have on our tourism numbers is indescribable," the conservancy said.
The Tourism Ministry has set aside Sh500 million to cushion the industry.
Part of the money will be used to advertise Kenya as a tourist destination once the virus situation improves.
But the conservancy said they expect the situation to worsen in the coming weeks and months with the real possibility of being forced to close its gates to visitors altogether should Kenya be put in lockdown.
“We are preparing for the worst, though we continue to hope for the best.”
The conservancy said that to continue protecting endangered wildlife and maintain zero poaching levels, they needed help.
“Whilst we will ensure prudence and efficiency in our expenditure, the areas that cannot be compromised and require critical funding support until the end of the year total Sh1.8 billion for rhino and wildlife protection, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and for chimpanzee welfare and veterinary services with another Sh41 million for community outreach and support.”
The conservancy said they were aware that there is no person that is not currently affected by the outbreak of the virus.
“We know that you understand our anxiety and worry for the future,” the statement said.
The conservancy said they have worked hard with the support of well-wishers to grow the population of rhinos to 170.
It said it would be heartbreaking to see all that collapse in a few months.
“If you would like to help us take care of our innocent, vulnerable wildlife, if you would like to help us keep our rangers on the ground, if you would like to help us support local communities who have no access to healthcare, please donate,” the conservancy said.
The donation will help them plan better and be prepared over the coming months of uncertainty. Donations can be made through their website.
edited by peter obuya