Africa’s wildlife champion fights poachers seizing on Covid tourism drop

Africa’s wildlife champion fights poachers seizing on Covid tourism drop

The pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on African nations on many levels. As vaccine equality debates and larger political concerns escalate, significant challenges on the ground are escalating, too, related to containing poaching and the illegal animal trade.

Simply put, when Covid curtails tourism, jobs disappear and the poaching of wildlife for profit accelerates. Due to the lucrative nature of the trade, poaching for everything from rhino tusks and pangolin to simple bushmeat has always existed, but it is accelerating at an alarming rate.

On the frontlines of the battle is Alina Peter. She’s the anti-poaching operations room coordinator at the Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania. The non-profit Grumeti Fund carries out wildlife conservation and community development programs in and around the Singita Grumeti Reserve. Here, she works with a dedicated team of staff, including 100 highly trained anti-poaching scouts, who come from the local communities bordering the concession.

Peter came into conservation from a purely technical background: “I earned both my bachelor and masters’ degrees in Information Communication Technology, she said. “When I took up my current role in 2017, I did not know it would be so immersed in conservation; that turned out to be my best career decision yet.”

Peter begins her days in the Serengeti by leading by example: she does a rigorous CrossFit session at sunrise with the scout team, working through burpees, deadlifts, pull-ups and a particularly arduous hill run that gets the lungs heaving. Then, she checks into the anti-poaching headquarters. “My workdays are pretty random,” she said. “Some days are more eventful than others. However, I would start by cross-checking data input in our spatial platform — EarthRanger (ER), extracting data for reporting purposes and over-seeing my team’s daily activities. While on an eventful day, I’ll be coordinating live operations via ER or out in the field inspecting different communication infrastructures that support our operations.”

This is an excerpt from an article by Colin Nagy, originally published by Skift.com

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