Game reserves turn to meat sales with revenues slashed 90%

SOUTH AFRICA – The tourism Industry being a backbone of many countries’ economies and a lifeline for millions of people around the world, has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, owing to movement restrictions.

Now, faced with a loss of up to 90% of its revenue, game reserves in Africa have turned to selling of game meat as a lifeline for the multi-billion-dollar industry.

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The reserves, according to IoL, normally gives away or sells at low cost the meat from grazers such as impala and nyala, a spiral-horned antelope, that it culls each year to manage stocks, depending on the weather conditions and available grassland.

The game reserves are now more actively marketing the meat often seen as a delicacy bought by restaurants and foreign tourists to bring in between R50,000 to R100,000 (US$2,875 to US$5,730) per month.

“The tourism industry has collapsed. There has been no one coming to visit,” said Roelie Kloppers, chief executive at the Wildlands, which co-manages the reserve in the heart of northern Zululand.

“Instead of culling and just giving that meat away or selling it at a very low price locally, we tried to market it,” said Kloppers, adding “we would rather have the doors open.”

The meat is sold online through a partnership with KZN Game Meat, at farmers’ markets and at some Pick n Pay stores.

“Bills are pilling up … so we decided to cull the animals that breed in numbers so we can sell the meat to supplement income during this time,” said leader of the Emvokweni Community Trust, which owns the reserve, Fana Gumbi.

The African Union estimates that African countries have lost almost US$55 billion in travel and tourism revenues in just three months due to the pandemic.

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In July, UNCTAD indicated that the world’s tourism sector could lose at least US$1.2 trillion, or 1.5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The UN’s trade and development body warned that the loss could rise to US$2.2 trillion or 2.8% of the world’s GDP if the break in international tourism lasts for eight months.

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