Like many other tourism establishments, resorts in the Etosha National Park have recorded a significant loss in revenue due to the Covid-19 outbreak. “If you look at the figures of both April 2019 and April 2020, last year, we recorded revenue of N$2.6 million. But this year, we only received N$26 000. For now, we are merely surviving from the previous financial year, but this loss in revenue will affect the next financial year and we are worried about how little we may receive from the central government,” said Evaristo Nghilai, who is the control chief warden of the Etosha National Park. Nghilai said that the park’s operations are heavily reliant on a sufficient budget and lack thereof could have detrimental effects, not only on the conservation of wildlife but also on tourism. Staff working in the part are also responsible for mitigating human-wildlife conflict, provision of water for wildlife and combating poaching. “The workers need to be paid camping allowance and overtime as well as fuel for the cars. With a limited budget, we may not properly patrol the 800km of the fence. Patrolling is important to tackle poaching,” Nghilai said. “If we are forced to ground our activities due to a limited budget, animals will leave the park and destroy crops in the villages.”
Without adequate water supply, Nghilai is concerned that some of the animals may die as the park is responsible for pumping water for the animals at the various boreholes. The park is also responsible for the coordination of five concessions in five different regions, namely the King Nehale Conservancy (Oshikoto), Iipumbu Ya Shilongo Conservancy (Oshana), Sheya Uushona Conservancy (Omusati), Ehirovipuka Conservancy (Kunene) and Gobaub Conservancy (Kunene). Due to the pandemic, these community conservancies have been badly affected and this could risk conservation of wildlife that roam around the locality.
“Community conservation will be affected. There are game guards who are employed by the community to look after wildlife like springboks, ostriches and wildebeest and without an income from tourists, they will not operate,” said Nghilai. Two of the conservancies had planned to open the operations of their newly built lodges, but because of the pandemic, these plans were halted resulting in significant loss of income for the communities.
As for tourism, Nghilai foresees a bleak future due to the pandemic because the park attracts mainly tourists from Germany, Italy and America, which are among the countries with high Covid-19 cases and deaths. “Conservation is supposed to support itself but with no money coming in from tourism, we may not recover for a very long time,” he said.
2020-05-14 10:03:15 | 16 days ago