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Poaching Gone Viral

Ebola has killed upwards of 5,000 West Africans, but the tragedy doesn't end there. The virus is also putting the continent’s wildlife in peril. We’re not just talking about susceptible primates in countries where the disease has reached epidemic proportions. Wildlife tourism in Kenya—which is 3,000 miles away on Africa’s eastern coast (yeah, geography!)—has taken a big hit due to misplaced panic regarding the disease. As you can see by this map, brought to our attention by the BBC's Alan Kasujja, the great majority of Africa's countries fall in the “No Ebola Zone.”

Despite that fact, tourism across the continent has taken a 30 percent downturn this year and is expected to drop to 50 percent in 2015, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. With fewer park rangers to protect animals like elephants and rhinos, officials in the east and south are already seeing an uptick in poaching. Without the eco-tourism industry, many people will also turn to farming to make a living, which has serious consequences for wildlife areas. "Once the land is converted to agriculture there’s no going back,” says one conservationist. So if you've been waiting for the perfect time to go on an eco-friendly safari, the time is now! Book today! You can probably get a good deal….

Photo: Twitpic Alan Kasujja

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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