As travel wanes across the globe, poachers have taken advantage of the lack of tourists - and subsequent increase in wildlife activity - to target endangered animals.
In Botswana there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of poaching incidents targeting elephants and the endangered black rhino. In March, at least 6 black rhinos were poached in the Okavango Delta. Wildlife officers are in a race against time to locate and evacuate the rhinos - which is no easy task given rising floodwaters in the area. The rhinos are being moved to a secret location to protect their safety and that of the wildlife officers performing the evacuation operation. Black rhinos are classified as critically endangered, with only a little over 5,000 left in the wild. Approximately 502 of those inhabit Okavango. Conservationists project that at the current rate of poaching (approximately 56 rhinos - both white and black - over the last two years), the animals are in severe danger of going extinct within a few years.
Another tactic to deter poachers is to dehorn the rhinos, a painless procedure that's equivalent to cutting our nails. Conservationist groups in both Botswana and South Africa have used this method in recent months.
Africa is not the only continent seeing these effects; in South America, big cats such as jaguars, pumas and ocelots have been venturing into areas they previously avoided due to human traffic. As a consequence, they are now falling prey to both poachers as well local farmers who may be killing the animals to protect their livestock. And in Asia - as local communities lose vital income due to the lockdown - there has been a spike in poisoning of giant ibis, of which only a few hundred remain in the wild.
Image by David Clode