Deprived of its usual foreign visitors, Kenya relies on local tourism. And the agencies don’t waste time. The government deconfigured Nairobi Monday, July 6, allowing residents to return to the safari tracks. As soon as the Kenyan President’s speech ended, residents began to receive emails about “exceptional” promotions from tourist establishments. For example, a luxury log chain titled its message: “Now that you can travel again, it’s time to book your getaway away from Nairobi.”
A safari experience that promises to be unique this year as the migration of wildebeest, one of the largest animal migrations in the world, has just started. Millions of animals, in search of pasture, will cross Tanzania to reach Kenya. An exceptional spectacle which usually attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Kenya. But this year is a unique opportunity to witness this migration of wildebeest in parks almost empty of tourists.
It is an opportunity for some but a drama looming for thousands of Kenyans because the stoppage of the sector for months was right for several tourist establishments. Hotels and lodges have closed their doors. Tourism accounts for 10% of GDP and supports more than a million Kenyans. As a result, thousands of them have lost their jobs. This is the case of Ole Kashira, Masai tour guide for 16 years. “When the coronavirus arrived, everything turned to hell. Many guides were sent home.”
Today, people are looking for other ways to earn money and some are turning to criminal networks of animal trafficking, elephant tusks, rhino horns.Ole Kashira, tour guide
“My biggest concern, as a guide, is that we are going back to the era of poaching”, continues Ole Kashira. To date, at least one elephant in their 40s and two giraffes have been killed in an area where there has been no poaching for years. For now, it is mainly small bush animals such as impalas, gazelles and other antelopes, which suffer the most because they are prized for their meat by rural communities in need of livelihood. They are also the food of big cats such as leopards and cheetahs. If they ran out, these big cats could desert the region.