Simon Reeve warns lockdown has left animals vulnerable to poachers

BBC travel presenter Simon Reeve warns that the lockdown has left animals vulnerable to poachers – even in parks and conservancies

  • Many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off
  • This is leaving endangered animals unprotected and poaching has increased 
  • Rhinos have been killed in Africa in tourist areas considered safe havens 

BBC travel presenter Simon Reeve, who says many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off, leaving endangered animals unprotected 

On the face of it, the lockdown should benefit nature. 

With humans stuck inside, pollution levels are plummeting, coyotes are retaking empty streets in San Francisco and goats are strolling nonchalantly through Llandudno in Wales.

Yet, sadly, many rangers and guides at national parks across the globe are being laid off, leaving endangered animals unprotected. 

Poaching is already increasing in some areas. Rhinos have been killed in southern Africa, in tourist areas normally considered safe havens.

So when tourism does return, why not book a ‘wild holiday’? 

From bear rehabilitation centres in Vietnam and Laos to orangutan sanctuaries in Malaysia, fish-breeding coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and game reserves in Africa, cash from overseas visitors can make a difference.

At sea, less money now means fewer patrol boats monitoring reefs and marine protected areas. 

The result is more illegal fishing, stripping out vital creatures that help to keep our oceans in balance.

On land, without rangers, the hunt for ‘bushmeat’ is another threat, and there are concerns that farmers will take areas of national parks for crops and cattle. 

I also know, from first-hand experience at the incredible Kicheche camps in Kenya, that to visit them is like stepping into the Garden of Eden: elephants, hyenas, leopards, baboons, topis and elands.

Simon says that rhinos have been killed in southern Africa, in tourist areas normally considered safe havens (file picture)

The camps are an important employer, too, with scores of staff providing for family members as well as funding schools and healthcare. A collapse in visitor numbers is a disaster for these parts of the Maasai Mara.

It’s a good idea during lockdown to research future visits to some of the world’s spectacular conservation camps. 

If you find a trip that’s right for you, put a deposit down: it will be a start.

After the virus has gone, go wild! And help protect great apes, big cats and other endangered life on this planet, as well as supporting communities.

  • Simon Reeve’s television adventures are on BBC iPlayer. Step By Step, his autobiography, is available from bookshops and online. 

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10 best livestreaming experiences to help make-believe you’re on holiday

Getting quarantine cabin fever? There may be a temporary solution: become an armchair traveller.

Destinations and attractions around the world are wising up to the fact that people would still like to “visit”, even if they can’t physically be there, and have made use of technology accordingly.

Plenty of parks and outdoor spaces have set up webcams that allow you to livestream video at any given moment for a bit of accessible escapism.

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Here are 10 of the best livestreaming experiences that let’s you travel without setting foot outside your lockdown pad.

Go on a virtual city tour

Travel Curious has started running livestreamed tours all over the world. The first one took place on 24 March and saw guide Dennis, a retired NYPD Police officer who worked for several years as a detective with the Manhattan North Tactical Narcotics Team, take viewers for a virtual Mafia Tour of NYC.

This weekend also featured a tour of the ancient cathedral city of St Albans and an Historic Dublin and the Road to Independence tour.

More tours will be announced on the company’s Instagram page, @TravelCuriousTours.

Make like a star in Hollywood

There are a range of live cams around Los Angeles, showcasing iconic views of Hollywood and Vine, Hollywood Blvd and Venice Beach (sadly minus the body builders), all in real-time. There’s also a full virtual tour of LA available at  

Gasp at the Northern Lights

Why not tick-off a bucket list activity while under lockdown? and Polar Bears International are live streaming footage from Churchill, Manitoba, in Canada, for those keen to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. The camera is set up under the aurora oval, considered one of the best places to spot the aurora borealis. The feed is streaming 24 hours a day at

Escape to the Caribbean

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority is inviting people to escape to Saint Lucia with a social media series that’s airing twice a week on Instagram. There’s everything from a live DJ dance party featuring Reggae, Dancehall and Soca hits, to a cooking class with Saint Lucian chef Shorne Benjamin; from a guided meditation on the beach to a garden guide to herbal plants and remedies. Follow @TravelSaintLucia on Instagram and click the “story” in the top left corner to take part. 

Hit the beach 

San Diego’s historic beachfront Hotel Del Coronado, or “The Del”, is one of the few surviving examples of an American wooden Victorian beach resort. Armchair travellers can watch the waves crashing on the shore and sun beating down on the golden sand via The Del’s live beach cams.

Swim with sharks

Palma Aquarium in Mallorca is offering virtual visitors the chance to discover the Mediterranean’s marine life. Tropical reefs, exotic fish and even sharks will be on display in the aquarium’s live streaming sessions, taking place on Monday to Friday at 10am (UK time). The aquarium is home to more than 8,000 specimens of almost 700 species. 

Get down to some country music

Nashville, the official home of country music, isn’t going to let a global pandemic silence it. The Grand Ole Opry, the famed weekly American country music stage concert founded nearly 95 years ago, paused all shows with a live audience on 16 March, but is still streaming acoustic performances with musicians and minimal crew. Check listings on Facebook and YouTube to catch the next show. 

Elsewhere in Music City, plenty of artists are sharing their talents on social media and live streaming apps. See

Talk to the animals

Various zoos are livestreaming to allow viewers to meet and greet the animals during lockdown. Chester Zoo has been doing live sessions on its Facebook page, including feeding time with the giraffes and pandas; Marwell Zoo has seen a huge surge in people tuning in to watch its live animal webcams featuring flamingos, penguins, giraffes and black and white ruffed lemurs, with viewer numbers hitting 64,000 last week; and the Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales is inviting people on virtual tours to experience feeding time with crocodiles, dingos and koalas.

Go birdwatching

Explore currently offers live web cam feeds of all sorts of critters, including bald eagles in Iowa, courtesy of the Raptor Resource Project. Head from there to the osprey nest at Chesapeake Conservancy; a feed of Great Horned Owls; and even watch exquisite hummingbirds at play. 

Explore Yosemite

Experience this natural wonder in real time by clicking through to its webcams. The views include Yosemite Falls, the view of the Half Dome from the floor of Yosemite Valley, and vistas from the High Sierra captured at 8,000 feet.

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