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Africa’s Multi-billion-dollar Safari Industry is Unravelling

From Kenya’s Masai Mara to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, rural communities that depend on safaris for income are seeing their livelihoods and dreams shattered. Hundreds of thousands of people rely on the sector, not to mention their dependents. A slump in tourist dollars has hit conservation projects hard. And even as countries around the world loosen lockdowns, game parks, lodges and travel agencies face a grim future. The safari industry generates some $12.4 billion in annual revenues for South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania Uganda and Zambia – Africa’s top wildlife tourist destinations – according to an estimate by SafariBookings. But a survey of over 300 tour operators conducted by the online safari travel platform this month showed that almost 93% reported a drop in bookings of at least 75% due to the pandemic. Cancellations have also spiked, the majority of them said.