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While the world deals with the pandemic, all lives have been severely impacted. With the number of human deaths on the rise, countless animals and their habitats have been affected as well. News of flora and fauna thriving due to the global lockdown, and many animals reclaiming the streets have made headlines. We got in touch with Harnas Wildlife Foundation, an animal sanctuary based out of Namibia, to understand how the crises have impacted our furry friends. By Bayar Jain
1. Tell us a little bit about Harnas Wildlife Foundation and the various activities it undertakes.
Harnas Wildlife Foundation is an animal sanctuary set in the heart of the Kalahari in Namibia. In essence, Harnas is a rehabilitation centre for orphaned or injured animals. We are also a care centre for animals that cannot be released back into the wild for whatever reason. Apart from that, we are also deeply involved in wildlife conservation, addressing human and animal conservation, wildlife education, and community upliftment. We’ve carried out an extensive programme for the conservation of the African Wild Dog – an endangered carnivore species in Africa with only some 4,000-6,000 dogs worldwide.
2. How is the organisation dealing with the current crises, and what are some of the challenges faced?
The COVID-19 crisis has had a severe impact on Harnas as far as expendable income is concerned. We do not receive any grants and are therefore dependent on our income from guests and volunteers to fund our projects.
3. You’re closely involved with wildlife. Do you notice any changes in animal behaviour due to this pandemic and lack of humans around?
Without human intervention, the animals seem to revert to their age-old ways of coexistence.
4. Wildlife welfare and medical facilities have always been a challenge. Has the pandemic worsened this further in any way?
The pandemic has certainly impacted the availability of certain medicines and vet infrastructure. Fortunately, this is not critical.
5. You have a lot of volunteer programmes all year round. Are there any such virtual provisions in place currently?
Currently, we don’t have any virtual provisions in place because the heart of our volunteer programmes is the ability to work closely with animals while undertaking activities like feeding, watering, grooming, and care.
6. In your opinion, do you think wildlife tourism will gain popularity post the lockdown?
7. Being based out of Namibia, what would you consider some of the hidden gems of the region?
Namibia has mainly hidden gems, one of which is Harnas. The biggest advantage of Namibia is the manner in which the virus has been contained. Currently [as of May 18], the country has had only 16 cases with zero deaths. In that sense, Namibia is one of the safest places on Earth.