Earlier this summer, Chris Costa of National Geographic Traveler wrote a blog post calling on his readers to go on safari.
Tourism to Africa dropped as much as 70 percent in the wake of the Ebola crisis last winter, even though popular safari destinations such as the Serengeti are thousands of miles away from affected areas.
With fewer tourists and less money coming into local communities, poachers have more opportunities to kill endangered animals and sell their body parts on the international black market. Pangolin scales, elephant ivory and rhino horn are all in high demand. As a result of this illegal trade, subspecies like the northern white rhino are on the brink of extinction.
Costa quoted safari guide Mark Thornton as saying, “One of the few things standing in the way of the possible extinction of endangered [animals] is tourists who pay to see these majestic creatures in the wild.” This is because tourism brings jobs and income to local communities, providing alternatives to destructive poaching. Park entry fees fund conservation and anti-poaching programs.