Amid the bizarre mass hysteria occasioned by the West African Ebola outbreak, one group of affected people has attracted few column inches and remarkably little concern.
The owners and employees of Africa’s safari camps and lodges have seen bookings dry up and cancellations proliferate. Safari businesses often work within very tight margins. Many now confront severe financial difficulty. And loyal staff face the prospect of temporary layoffs or worse. So a few facts bear repeating.
At the time of writing, there have been no cases of Ebola in any of the principal safari countries of East and Southern Africa. The affected areas in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are almost equidistant — about 3,500 miles — from Nairobi, Johannesburg and London. Last year, about 1.3 million people in Africa died from malaria, but this atrocious statistic did not serve as a deterrent to American travelers.
Appalling though the Ebola outbreak has been for thousands of unfortunate West Africans, the extreme overreaction here in the United States has been almost entirely irrational. In fact, given that many of the chief wildlife areas are now virtually deserted, this is an ideal moment to undertake the safari trip of a lifetime.
This article appeared in the December 2014 print edition of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report under the headline “Ebola in Perspective.”