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COVID-19 impacts on wildlife conservation and the need for new conservation models

July 31, 2020

A new paper out in Nature Ecology and Evolution, whose authors include WildCRU’s Amy Dickman and Peter Tyrrell, highlights the devastating impact of the current pandemic on wildlife conservation. Travel restrictions and unprecedented socio-economic shocks reduce funding for conservation, as wildlife-based tourism and foreign investment decline, and domestic priorities change. This limits the ability of African countries to effectively protect their wildlife, and impacts communities reliant upon external funding. Meanwhile, economic downturns mean that rural communities in particular are more likely to rely on extracting natural resources to safeguard their livelihoods. Declining conservation funding and increasing threats to wildlife will exacerbate risks for already imperiled species and habitats. However, safeguarding natural habitat is one of the most important steps that can be taken to reduce future pandemic risk as well as protecting biodiversity. This paper sets out some recommendations for how we can rethink African conservation to provide more resilient models for both people and wildlife.

Lindsey, P., Allan, J., Brehony, P. et al. Conserving Africa’s wildlife and wildlands through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Nat Ecol Evol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1275-6