Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, wildlife roam free in their protected grounds, and in our imaginations. We can picture an elephant herd at a water hole, lion cubs tussling in tall grass. A nature-loving global public cherish such scenes, and in 2018 wildlife tourism directly contributed US$ 120.1 billion to helping grow the economies of many nations.
But with Covid-19, tourists everywhere have canceled their plans and the tourism industry has crashed to a halt. Some African parks have closed. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo has barred visitors until June 1—in part to protect its endangered mountain gorillas from possible exposure to Covid-19. It may be years, rather than months, before ecotourism reclaims its role in economic development.