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Can Zimbabwe’s Only Bird Park Survive?

With an estimated 400 species of birds on an idyllic spot on Zimbabwe’s Lake Chivero, about 40 kilometers south of Harare, the Kuimba Shiri bird sanctuary has been drawing tourists for more than 15 years. The southern African country’s only bird park has survived tumultuous times, including violent land invasions and a devastating economic collapse but the outbreak of coronavirus is proving a stern test. “I thought I had survived the worst, but this coronavirus is something else,” said owner Gary Strafford. “One-third of our visitors are from China. They stopped coming in February … and when we were shut down in March that was just unbelievable.” A lifelong bird enthusiast, Strafford, 62, established the center for injured, orphaned and abandoned birds in 1992, and tourism has kept the park going. With Zimbabwe’s inflation rising to over 750 percent, tourism establishments are battling a vicious economic downturn worsened by the new coronavirus travel restrictions.