Whilst the dreaded 'C-word' has plagued the lives of everyone in the last year or so, those in the wildlife and tourism industry have been hit harder than most.
Seemingly forgotten about by their governments and subject to the keyboard warriors who sit at home behind their computers, typing rapidly on Facebook and Instagram about how "less people travelling is benefitting the world's wildlife". What this short sightedness forgets is that we are unfortunately at a stage in proceedings where wildlife needs tourism.
Today is a poignant reminder of the battle conservation currently faces. Be it the threat from a bushmeat poacher, or a lack of funding causing fencing to deteriorate, we are at the brink of losing so much biodiversity.
Take one of my favourite animals for example, the rhino (black or white does not matter in this instance). During 2020 Kenya was the bright light in the fight for saving these magnificent creatures, with not one rhino poached. South Africa on the other hand recorded just under four-hundred rhinos poached. Yes, this is a decline on recent years, but under the surface of these figures, the real question bubbles. Do you believe rhino populations are now thriving in South Africa or are these numbers just an indication that there are far fewer rhinos to poach.
Aside from the doom and gloom of conservation (something that is always too prevalent!) today should be a celebration of the wonderful biodiversity that calls our planet home. From the tiny ant to the mighty gorilla, we are blessed to share our planet with such incredible flora and fauna. And there are success stories! The shoebill is just one example. Numbers are steadily increasing in areas like Mabamba Swamp as local fisherman have seen the benefit that tourism from shoebills bring.
I have travelled more than most in the past year and have been lucky enough to witness some of the planet's most beautiful spectacles. From witnessing the mighty Mara River Crossings during the wildebeest's annual pilgrimage in the Serengeti, to hiking with gorillas in the forests of Uganda I have been luckier than most, and I urge anyone who can, to travel and help support our incredible wildlife.