When I got back from Rwanda in early January, we had no idea the crisis that was about to unfold across the planet from the novel coronavirus. 2020 has become the year of the pandemic and all of us are adapting to it in our own ways. Back in early March, my first response to the sense of fear and trepidation about the many unknowns that people around me were feeling was to think about how elephants might react if this was something that was affecting them. The population in Akagera National Park, Rwanda that has been my focus for the last couple of years have dealt with trauma after trauma in their lives, and only in the last decade have things settled down for them and a peaceful existence made possible by the wonderful team at the Akagera Management Company (African Parks in partnership with the Rwandan Development Board).
As we all ride this crazy wave that is the coronavirus pandemic, no doubt many of us are going through peaks and troughs of emotions.
While the animals might have initially enjoyed a little break from tourist traffic in Africa's national parks, COVID-19 is having all sorts of impacts on endangered species. This great article just published by Lavanya Sunkara in Readers Digest explains some of these impacts on many of our favourite animals, including elephants, lions and rhinos, and best of all, our very own Akagera Elephant Project even gets a mention!
In the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic, it s easy to feel overwhelmed and a bit hopeless. When I was forced to postpone my upcoming safaris planned for this May and June to Tanzania and Botswana to next year, I must admit it was a pretty horrid feeling. Part of that feeling was purely selfish - I m really going to miss Africa this year! But I m also worried about my friends working in safaris and conservation, and what this means for the people and wildlife of Africa. But before I could even start to feel miserable about all that, emails started rolling in from our guests from all across the world. No one talked about cancelling; everyone was just as keen as I was to make sure we get over to Africa, even if it is a year later. I am so grateful for this - because Africa really needs us right now.
"Look at all the animals!"
This is a phrase youre likely to hear and say yourself about ten times on your first day in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. It's impressive for an adult, but for kids who are so zoned in to everything that moves this East African gem is an absolute wonderland of sights and sounds.
If there s a place on earth that shows that it s possible to recover from even the most extremely desperate situations and that proves the phenomenal resilience both of people and nature, it has to be Rwanda. This December I spent a full month there and it reminded me how valuable it is to be able to spend significant time in one place really getting to know it better.