“In northern Cambodia, giant ibis, white-winged ducks and other rare species have helped ecotourism take flight in recent years. Just two decades after their near extinction, the population of giant ibis has grown to about 300 birds, bringing in thousands of visitors to remote areas of the country. This tourism has provided an important economic catalyst, generating critical revenue for rural communities and conservation initiatives.
But now, in Cambodia and other wild places around the world, ecotourism is in the crosshairs of a new threat — covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The consequences for both wildlife and people are still unfolding and expected to be far-reaching.
“A major source of income for rural communities has suddenly been cut off,” said Jeremy Radachowsky, director of the Mesoamerica and Western Caribbean Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “It’s going to have an especially large impact on budgets for protected areas and wildlife, which also happen to be some of the most important investments we can make to avoid future pandemics.””