A giraffe of the 'Masai' sub species forages on the plain at the Ol Kinyei conservancy in Maasai Mara. AFP
In the majestic plains of the Maasai Mara, the coronavirus pandemic spells economic disaster for locals who earn a living from tourists coming to see Kenya's abundant wildlife.
Even before the virus arrived in Kenya mid-March, tourism revenues had plummeted, with cancellations coming in from crucial markets such as China, Europe and the United States.
Zimbabwe bird sanctuary has 400 species, not enough tourists
Al Ain Zoo witnesses over 411 animal births in first half of 2020
Man fights off deadly snake while driving on Australian highway
According to the tourism ministry, the sector has lost $750 million this year — roughly half of the total revenue in 2019.
"We were fully booked in June but now we have zero bookings. Nothing. It's terrible," said Jimmy Lemara, 40, the manager of an eco-lodge in the private Ol Kinyei conservancy.
In the Maasai Mara, one of Africa's most highly-rated wildlife reserves located in the vast flat plains of the Great Rift Valley, the local Maasai community, traditional herders who make up 2.5 percent of the population, now depend almost exclusively upon tourism for their livelihood.
People in Talek, a dusty town situated at one of the entrances to the Maasai Mara national reserve, are gloomily buckling down, hoping for better days.
Kenya has announced international flights will resume on August 1, but the high season is already lost.
"Since December, work has been extremely low, and now we're in survival mode hoping to make 150 to 200 shillings ($1.4 to $1.9) a day, to be able to buy a meal," said Ibrahim Sameri, 38, whose small mechanic workshop can generate up to $30 a day in the high season.
Nalokiti Sayialel normally sells bead necklaces and bracelets to tourists passing through.
"It's been three months that I haven't sold anything," the 45-year-old said.
The Maasai Mara national reserve, run by the Narok county government, extends to the north with several privately-managed conservancies renting land from the Maasai who in exchange do not graze their cattle or settle there.
This model has since 2005 allowed the doubling of the habitat for wildlife in this area.
On average, each land owner earns $220 per month, far more than the minimum wage in the area.
Forced to sell livestock
Some Maasai families are having to turn to selling their precious livestock to earn money.
"Because we're getting little and it's not enough to sustain the family for a living, I had to sell two goats worth about 12,000 shillings to put on top of what I'm getting to keep me going," said Julius Sanare, 41, head chef at the eco-lodge in Ol Kinyei.
However livestock markets have been shut due to coronavirus prevention measures.
Residents said the Maasai are instead selling their animals on the black market for a pittance to unscrupulous buyers taking advantage of their desperation.
Mohanjeet Brar, managing director of Porini safari camps which run two conservancies and several lodges in the Mara, said the "catastrophic" situation could threaten the existence of the reserves.
"If the landowners are not getting any revenue, they can't feed themselves, they can't send their kids to schools, they would have no option but to look at other forms of land utilisation," he said.
"Fencing it off, selling it to people, building businesses... all those alternate land uses don't go together with wildlife and elephants and big cats and so this would be completely lost," he said.
"And once it's lost, if you look at Kenya and its very fast population growth rate and good economic growth over the last few years, it would be lost forever. It would be a real shame."
Visitors have flocked from the capital Pretoria and financial hub Johannesburg since the government allowed South Africans to travel for leisure within their provinces last week.
Giraffe numbers across the continent fell 40 percent between 1985 and 2015, to just under 100,000 animals, according to the best figures available to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The “Humsafar” actress shared breathtaking pictures on her Instagram to explore the beauty of the jungle.
The male cub is "Singapore's very own Simba,” referring to the iconic Disney animated film Lion King. It is rare for lions to be conceived through artificial insemination, with the procedure first carried out successfully in 2018 -- resulting in two cubs in South Africa.
People from far and wide seek Bizrahmed’s rhinoplasty in Dubai to treat various problems, including sleep apnea, deviated septum, and difficulty breathing. Whether you're unhappy with the shape of your nose or suffer from breathing problems, a nose job could be the solution you're looking for.
The main aim of the Spring Adventure Camp is to help children develop their skills through a broad programme of educational and entertaining activities.
'The child’s insomnia can affect other family members’ ability to function because, if the child is not sleeping, everyone’s sleep can be disturbed. This adds to parental stress in the long term,' says Cynthia Johnson, Director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Centre for Autism.