When Khimbini Hlongwane spent most of his small safari tour company's savings on the deposit for a minibus in February, he thought it was a safe bet.
Business was booming - revenues last year had doubled and bookings from Brazilians, Brits and Americans to glimpse at wildlife in South Africa's Kruger National Park were up.
Then lockdown hit. Borders were closed. Airlines grounded.
"We are now seating with vehicles that we struggling to repay to the finances. Things are very, very challenging right now because all business is gone right now."
Hlongwane says he's been forced to stop paying the salaries of his five employees. His case is not unique.
From Kenya's Masai Mara to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa's multi-billion-dollar safari industry is unraveling.
It generates annual revenues of 12.4 billion dollars for the continent's top wildlife tourist destinations - South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia - according to an estimate by SafariBookings.
But in a survey of 300 tour operators by the online safari travel platform, nearly 93% reported a drop in bookings of at least 75%.
Hundreds of thousands of people in rural communities are seeing their livelihoods shattered.
Roughly half of the residents in Mabarhule, on the edge of Kruger National Park, were already jobless.
Freelance tour guides like father-of-four Sipho Nkosi would typically make around $33 per tour. He's now found himself without a safety net.
"We saved some of our money in the banks but we now just run out of money in the bank so we will start starving for now."
The lack of tourist dollars is also forcing wildlife projects across Africa to make cuts.
Conservationists fear the growing desperation in rural communities could fuel a wave of poaching.