TOURISM NEWS from the Eastern African and Indian Ocean region
Reports, Travel Stories and Opinions
By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome
Third edition September 2010
NEMA NAMES MORE POLLUTERS, IGNORES WETLAND ENCROACHMENT
The national environmental management authority last week again named and shamed leading corporate entities for their part in polluting the environment, and in particular for discharging untreated waste water and waste products into the environment without due care.
Pepsi Cola’s local franchise is amongst them, as is Ngege Fish, a regular exporter of chilled fish fillets to Europe and particularly prone to a backlash against their product from European consumers, should their deplorable practises become more widely known.
Only a few weeks ago did NEMA begin to publish names of ‘offenders’ and has now continued the practise through the media, to highlight the problem they have with big business besides well connected individuals. It was reported that some more enlightened companies have in the meantime signed ‘compliance agreements’ with NEMA, a step in the right direction but only a start of a long process, considering the number of defaulters and offenders mentioned in the latest press releases.
Meanwhile though must NEMA also take flack again for their failure to respond to public outcries over the ongoing encroachment of the Konge valley swamp and wetland, where in an accelerated fashion the wetland is being filled up to be used for buildings.
NEMA has habitually ignored past information on this development of an area of crucial importance to drain rain water from the surrounding hills. The swamp is draining the water towards Lake Victoria but as it is shrinking at an alarming rate the next el Nino rains will undoubtedly teach the encroachers some harsh lessons, as – when drainage is blocked – the water levels have in the past risen to the size of a small lake which has on previous occasions flooded and destroyed illegal structures erected inside the swamp. This correspondent will continue to observe what NEMA is going to do about these criminal developments, if at all they will wake up, leave their fancy offices and actually go into the field to see for themselves what has been going on right under their Pinocchio like long noses … pun intended.
UWA / CARE DIG TRENCHES TO PROTECT VILLAGES FROM MARAUDING ELEPHANT
The Uganda Wildlife Authority, in conjunction with Care International and local communities, has started a programme of ‘trench digging’ along the boundaries of the Murchisons Falls National Park’s critical boundary areas and around villages often subjected to the invasion of wildlife. A stakeholder meeting, part of UWA’s regular community relations activities, recently discussed an increase in the frequency of in particular elephant straying out of the park, disturbing and even attacking villagers in their farms and homesteads and feeding on crops, leaving the subsistence farmers often without a harvest nor seeds for the next season.
It is understood from a source within UWA that as much as 100 million Uganda Shillings have been set aside to support these protective measures, a move welcomed by local community leaders. A further nearly 600 million Uganda Shillings will be allocated to communities neighbouring the national park as part of UWA’s gate sharing commitment in coming months again, giving funding for the provision of crucial services to rural communities with otherwise little access to cash of such magnitude.
Technical sources however also blamed the growth of villages into the main wildlife migration corridors, used by elephant and other game to move from Murchisons as far as deep into Southern Sudan, where they follow the pastures and now often find fences or plantations across their age old routes.
Meanwhile did the public learn of another attempt to carve out land from Mt. Elgon National Park amounting to over 250 acres to develop unspecified ‘educational and recreational facilities’ …
Where were those now asking for land at the last boundary alignment and demarcation exercise, one wonders, or is pre-election time a period where one’s shopping cart gets filled with wonderland wishes …
THE SAD STORY OF THE SOROTI GOLF CLUB
Hot on the heels of another alleged scandal in Soroti, involving land and property owned by the East African Aviation Academy, aka Soroti Flying School, comes news that the golf course land was transferred into the name of a private limited liability company. This has raised another storm of outrage and made the news in Uganda, where land grabbing is not uncommon but rarely as daring and explicit as in these two recent cases from Eastern Uganda.
As a result did the Prime Minister’s office get involved in the two sagas and has in response to many complaints from the general public and affected residents of the area, including the aviation fraternity in Uganda, directed the Uganda Land Commission to immediately halt any sale or registration of sale of the land in question.
While the aviation school is a designated ‘Regional Centre of Excellence’ under the East African Community, and has a vital role to play in training aviation staff like pilots, technicians and administrators, the ongoing refurbishment, renovations and expansion would see a substantial setback if land would be hived off for personal gains by a few individuals.
As to the golf course, this is a matter of public concern too as the recreational and sporting value of such a facility is well near priceless, for the Soroti community as well as the country as a whole. Here too top governmental intervention is expected soon to stop and fully investigate the circumstances how a public golf course could be sold to individuals.
Golf in Eastern Africa is a popular sport and while initially about a dozen quality courses were in place after independence, many have since been turned into grazing land or been built over. Unlike in Kenya therefore where golf tourism is popular and profitable, and where even private championship golfcourses were developed in recent years, here in Uganda the sport still has a long way to go to get the recognition it deserves and appreciate the value addition to the tourism sector it could provide, if only fully embraced.
FUEL PRICES UP AGAIN AS SHORTAGE BITES
No sooner had the price for a litre of petrol gone through the psychologically important 3.000 Uganda Shillings mark did the relentless march upwards continue, when within days, causes by severe fuel shortages and aided by panic buying, prices in the city reached the 3.500 UShs mark while upcountry, in some locations, a litre of petrol sold for as much as 5.000 and more Uganda Shillings.
As a result transportation charges for busses and the commonly used ‘taxis’ or ‘matatus’ went up too immediately, and the extra cost of fuel also reflected instantly on the prize of commodities in the local markets for vegetables and fruits brought from upcountry to the capital. Fuel companies have once again strenuously denied any profiteering or collusion and blamed the price rises on the weakness of the local currency and risen crude oil prices on the international market, an explanation rejected by consumer watch dogs. The shortages were blamed on the ongoing repairs, maintenance and upgrade at the main fuel landing facility at the Mombasa port, which has restricted fuel arrivals for Kenya and all the hinterland nations. Meanwhile Ugandans need to brace themselves for the next Bank of Uganda inflation figures, which surely point upwards again after a period of constantly lower percentages.
FERRY STILL OUT OF SERVICE
Hopes that MV Kalangala would soon be back on the waters of Lake Victoria, following statements to that effect two weeks ago by a spokesperson of the Ministry of Works and Transport, were dashed when news emerged last week that the engine of the ferry needed overhauling first, a process thought to take about two more weeks, with the delay caused by inadequate preparations for this eventuality and the bureaucracy involved when the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act comes into play.
Commuters, tourists and traders regularly going to the Lake Victoria islands however appear not amused, as the absence of the ferry has been resulting in not only higher transport cost but made lake travel less safe, considering that MV Kalangala is better equipped and their staff better trained in comparison with the ‘normal’ lake boats, some of which lack even life vests and are in the present stormy season at greater risk when running into foul weather.
ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR FOR OCTOBER 05 – 11
Visitors to Uganda during in early October will have the opportunity to visit the annual international Uganda Manufacturer’s Association trade show, for which according to latest reports over 900 local, regional and international exhibitors have registered, to present their goods and services to the business community and the public at large.
This is the 18th edition of the show and, inspite of the challenging economic climate, expected to break past records with both attendance and business transactions. Intending visitors however should secure hotel space as soon as possible to be certain of their accommodation, as in particular the business community from the East African region is expected to descend on Kampala in large numbers and hotels expected to put the ‘fully booked’ signs up over the period of the show.
THE EYE MOVES INTO ‘BUY AND SELL’
A classified section will now appear in The Eye’s new ‘trade on the web’ section with immediate effect, offering a free of charge little description of what readers wish to either sell off or intend to buy – giving for the first time ever an e-trade platform for the local market in Uganda. The new service can be accessed via www.theeyetrade.ug but a link has also been put on the main website of the bi-monthly ‘must read’ magazine’s site via www.theeye.co.ug, and hey presto, gone are the days of costly classified ads in local news papers and magazines or putting up, at a cost of course, A4 pages in the main shopping centres ‘meeting point community boards’ – up to now a magnet for anyone looking for puppies, selling or seeking to buy a pre-owned car, household goods or requiring specialised gardening services, amongst others.
The novel idea apparently is taking the local market by storm and is the brainchild of Sharron ‘Shaz’ Glencross and Charlie Case, who own and manage The Eye magazines in Uganda, Rwanda and Malawi. Well done indeed – if only our ISP’s could now lower their internet access charges on a broad basis and become more reliable in their service delivery…
‘RIVER CAMP’ NOW OPEN AT BUJAGALI
Hannah Small, wife of Frasier Small aka ‘Bingo’, has last week announced that her ‘River Camp’ is now open for business overlooking the Bujagali falls – the latter sadly soon to be partly submerged when in early 2011 the wall of the downstream new power plant is completed and river levels begin to rise.
Hannah provided information that the camp site offers 8 ‘dorm type’ rooms sleeping 6 each, with separate shower facilities, and a large area where campers with their own equipment can set up and enjoy the views and the gushing rush of the river below. This is of particular interest for families with several children wanting to get away from the city and spending a few days at the upper Nile, exploring or partaking in adventure activities, which are aplenty to be found.
A swimming pool is also available for the campers and guests, as is a fully stocked bar and restaurant where meals can be ordered at competitive prices. Hannah in particular heaped praise on her new chef Pamela for creating a new menu every day according to the availability of fresh produce from the nearby farms and markets. Traditional favourite ‘fish and chips’ is of course available throughout the day, every day.
This is a welcome new facility at Bujagali’s adventure hub, located right at the base of Nalubale Rafting, and recommended for those travelling on a budget or not wanting to spend too much money on fancier accommodation and rather spend it on rafting, river boarding, family boating, cross country cycling, riding or quad biking instead.
That all said, for those however wishing to stay in some greater comfort, right next door is the well established ‘Nile Porch’ supplemented by the ‘Black Lantern’ restaurant – and this also being a ‘family business’ no competition but rather complementing the ‘River Camp’ and offering a complete package suitable for all pockets.
BRUSSELS AIRLINES TO MATCH COMPETITORS
It was learned from a regular source at the Kampala office of Brussels Airlines that SN will ‘match’ fares into the key European cities now on offer by ‘new comers’ to the market trying to carve out market share by aggressive pricing. Brussels Airlines, presently flying 4 times a week between Entebbe and the European capital city, has for long been a travellers’ favourite as a result of optimal departure times and easy connections into one of the most extensive European networks, considering the code shared flights with Lufthansa now also available to SN passengers.
In addition, the recent introduction of North American destinations via codeshared operations with United Airlines and Air Canada, have already made an impact on the sales, as will undoubtedly the ‘double miles’ offer for holders of the ‘Miles and More’ frequent travellers cards, which SN uses in conjunction with ‘parent’ company Lufthansa. Said one staff, who preferred anonymity: ‘We are not afraid of competition. We have an excellent and established product, code share to Entebbe with Lufthansa German Airlines and offer one of the quickest and best organised airports in Europe for transit – Brussels. It is here that our competitive advantages come to bear and other airlines, especially newcomers, are welcome, they will bring their own traffic into Uganda which is good for the country, more seats, more cargo spaces and more exposure for the country abroad through the airline’s own promotions, but as for us, our own share has been growing because of our quality, we retain passengers and still gain more’.
WORLD HERITAGE SITE ‘KASUBI TOMBS’ TO BE READY BY 2012
News was received earlier in the week that Kampala’s UNESCO World Heritage site the Kasubi Tombs, burned to the ground several months ago, will most likely be ready for a grand re-opening by some time in 2012, exceeding previous estimates for the reconstruction period.
The tombs, recognises by UNESCO, were the burial site for several of Buganda’s late kings and contained priceless artefacts and memorabilia from the olden days of the kingdom, much of which was destroyed by the raging fire at the time. Built initially around 1882 it was then turned into a burial ground around 1884 by then king Muteesa II.
A provisional completion date has been given by government as mid March 2012 by which time the site would be not only reconstructed but also equipped with state of the art fire detection and fighting equipment, a secure perimeter wall and additional visitor amenities, allowing greater numbers of tourists to come to the site and appreciate the great cultures and history of Uganda’s yesteryears.
It was also learned that while the kingdom’s subjects have collected in excess of 500 million Uganda Shillings UNESCO has pledged a million US Dollars or equivalent to 2.25 billion Uganda Shillings towards the reconstruction effort, with the Uganda government also having pledged a similar sum.
PRESIDENT TAKES NEXT STEP TOWARDS RE-ELECTION
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has now officially collected the forms required by the Electoral Commission to stand for re-election next year, when the country goes back to the polls. Reports from the EC’s offices also indicate, that this brings the total number of aspirants to 35. General consensus in political observer circles is that the incumbent president will be comfortably elected for another term of office, with few giving a real chance to any of the leading opposition candidates, who once more appear divided and have recently dropped an election alliance after failing to reach consensus over who should stand against the incumbent. This splintering of the opposition vote, combined with the fact that an accomplished and well known comedian from Kampala has also collected the presidential nomination forms, tells a story of its own and relegates many of the 35 aspirants into the category of day light dreamers. It is expected though that the now unfolding process will spring hurdles on many of those when they fail to meet the various logistical requirements the Electoral Commission must see fulfilled and certify before a candidate will eventually go on the ballots. From me it is once again all the best to ‘Mzee’ whose economic success story for Uganda since 1986 keep him firmly as the bookmakers’ – and this correspondent’s favourite to occupy State House in Entebbe for a further 5 years.
CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE SET FOR SUNDAY
The 40th anniversary edition of the annual ‘concours d’elegance, organised every year by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, will be held on Sunday 26th September at the Ngong Race Course, bringing once again the ‘classic cars’ and motorcycles of a long gone era into the public spotlight.
The event this year also celebrates the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo, founded in Italy reportedly in 1910, and members of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club from all over East Africa will come to Nairobi to either participate in the event with their own, often superbly kept or restored ‘Alfas’ or else to celebrate the occasion, see the exhibition and mingle with long standing friends.
Tourists who are in Nairobi that Sunday with an afternoon to spare are very much welcome to the Ngong Race Course to witness the event and get a feel of ‘local life’.
For more information please write to email@example.com
FAIRMONT EMPLOYS KENYANS IN THEIR MIDDLE EAST OPERATIONS
Some 50 young Kenyans with the aspiration to make hospitality their life’s profession, have recently been flown to Saudi Arabia to join the Fairmont Hotels’ in their landmark Mecca hotel. A press release in Kenya spoke of several hundred more young Kenyans being offered the opportunity to work in the ‘holy city’, where they will receive further training on the job to work as waiters, cooks, room stewards, receptionists, security guards and in a range of other positions.
Fairmont some years ago bought out Lonrho Hotels’ properties in Kenya, best known for the Norfolk Hotel and the Mount Kenya Safari Club, and the Kenyan operation reportedly had a hand in this recruitment exercise for their sister hotel property in Saudi Arabia.
Kenya’s Utalii College, renowned in all of Africa and further abroad as the African continent’s leading hotel and tourism training college, has provided skills and a foundation to thousands of young Kenyans, Ugandans, Tanzanians and students from across Africa to find work in the hotel, resort, travel, aviation and general tourism sector since its inception in the early 1970’s and graduates of Utalii are much sought after, not just in Kenya and East Africa but also in the Gulf, where the hotel sector has undergone a massive boom in recent years. Well done and all the best in your future careers.
KENYA AIRWAYS SIGNS WITH TRAVEL PORT
(Kenya Airways CEO Dr. Titus Naikuni exchanging documents with Mr. Mark Meehan, Managing Director for TravelPort Africa)
Last week saw the signing in Nairobi at the Kenya Airways head office in Embakasi of a full service and content agreement between East Africa’s leading airline and TravelPort. All available flights operated by KQ and fares, including on line promotions, will now be accessible via the global distribution systems Galileo and Worldspan with immediate effect to any travel agencies and other user around the world, and according to information from the airline the agreement will initially run for 5 years.
Kenya Airways called the new agreement an ‘important part of their overall distribution strategy’ and expected of a full member of the Sky Team alliance to which they belong.
In a related development has KQ expanded their on line options for travellers when making the purchase of travel insurance possible through their website, making it yet again more attractive to book on line, check in on line and now even get insurance cover at the same time. The airline is using an Amadeus solution to process insurance applications from travellers.
KQ, unlike many American airlines, is not emptying travellers pockets by all sorts of hidden and half hidden surcharges which surprise travellers often at the last moment, but has maintained their policy of sticking to their ‘one fare’ but is of course also seeking to introduce new revenue streams through the sale of travel insurance directly to passengers, which – as travel agents well know – can be an important factor for the profitability of the business. Watch this space.
SHOWDOWN TALKS WITH BOEING SET FOR NEXT WEEK
As previously reported here, the ongoing delays of the delivery of the B787 to Kenya Airways has raised the blood pressure in KQ’s corporate headquarters. The new planes, ordered in 2006 and now several years behind schedule, were to be a key element in cost reductions, route and capacity expansion for ‘The Pride of Africa’ and recent news that delivery to the launch customer ANA may fall further behind has brought on fresh concerns for other customers. In fact it is understood that the initially agreed delivery date for the first two aircraft was to be before the end of 2010 and Boeing has according to a source in Nairobi been unable or unwilling to confirm new dates with any degree of certainty so far.
Kenya Airways presently operates a fleet of B767 and B777 wide bodied aircraft, but the B767 fleet, fully utilised of course, is aging and was due for replacement by the lighter, larger and much more economical B787. Media reports over the past weeks suggested that Boeing had not made any concessions to Kenya Airways, unlike with other customers where reportedly significant rebates and bags of ‘goodies’ were agreed, prompting KQ to start talks with Airbus for the potential purchase or lease of several A330-300, to bridge the gap between the eventual delivery of the B787 or else cover their strategic objectives should the airline be compelled to cancel the ‘Dreamliner’ orders.
A panel of key Kenya Airways personnel has been evaluating the A330 for a while now, and Boeing will be cautious when talks take place next week over the ongoing, and for KQ rather expensive delays, how they play their cards. Should they not concede ground to Kenya Airways, possibly by contributing to B767 retrofitting and upgrading and offering rebates for the B787 order, they might find their B787 orders cancelled – as several other customers have already done in the past as a result of the unacceptable delays – and Airbus may be the beneficiary of this development by selling or leasing some of their own wide bodies to KQ.
Kenya Airways in the past did operate several of the A310-300 types but sold them when they were coming up for replacement and switched to Boeing’s B767 while adding several B777 later on. At the time Kenya Airways was operating an all Boeing fleet before eventually buying a couple of Saab turboprops for some of their domestic routes. These types of aircraft have since also been expired from the fleet but purchases and leases of Embraer 170 and 190 aircraft have already moved the airline away from being a purely Boeing operator and made the airline the biggest Embraer operator on the African continent.
KLM / Air France, which hold nearly 25 percent of the shares in KQ, themselves operate a large number of Airbus aircraft and this may make a big difference in Kenya Airways’ upcoming decision which way to go. Watch this space for the most current aviation news updates from the Eastern African and Indian Ocean region.
KAKAMEGA AIRFIELD SET FOR UPGRADE
Following the introduction of Fly 540’s scheduled flights to this Western Kenyan municipality has the Kenya Airports Authority at last acted and issued tenders for the expansion and resealing of the strip and the modernization of the terminal and other facilities expected of an aerodrome receiving scheduled air services and regular charters. It is understood that government would have to compensate the nearby community or resettle them in order to expand the length of the strip, so that larger turboprop aircraft can eventually be used for flying to Kakamega.
The airline commenced these flights in May and why it took KCAA so long to swing into action is, as often, a mystery, considering they must have known of Fly 540’s plans for quite some time before flights actually started. However, even if late the upgrades to the Kakamega field will be welcome news, not just for the airline but also for the travelling public, some of whom had in the past made their views known in public and private about the state of facilities. Watch this space.
KAKAMEGA FOREST CONSERVATION GROUP GETS UN RECOGNITION
Years of hard work, often with little appreciation and having to overcome opposition to their goals to conserve and re-afforest this unique tropical rain forest, have now paid off when a community based ‘self made’ conservation group, the Muliru Farmers, won global recognition for their work.
The group was taken unaware that their work has been noted and entered into a global competition by the UN by well wishers, and most surprised according to local sources when they learned of the honours and having beat several hundred other nominations to scoop the prize worth 5.000 US Dollars.
The prize also automatically enters the group for the ‘Equator Prize’ which would be worth another 15.000 US Dollars should Muliru emerge as overall winner – a fortune for the conservation group and according to a source in Nairobi ‘to be ploughed back into our work for the forest’ – a most applaudable reaction and a sign of the commitment of the group of farmers against all odds.
LEGAL TROUBLE FOR THE MANAGERS OF ‘PARADISE’
Information was received last week that the Kenya Wildlife Service was sued, jointly with the Kisumu Municipal Council, the Attorney General, the Ministry of Land and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife under which KWS falls, to pay ‘compensation’ to a number of families from Ndere Island. It is understood that the land of the community was for the past 30 odd years held by the council in trust for the community but had entered into an agreement with government back in the late 1970’s at the time through the then Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
The community, which gave up the land, now claims not to have received any benefits from the deal, which they say was done at their expense. KWS has acknowledged the upcoming case and reportedly asked for time to assess the claims and find a settlement, unlikely as it may seem at this late stage.
The expansion of Kisumu Airport too was for some time in doubt when surrounding communities claimed not to have been properly compensated for the land taken from them when the airport was initially built and would resist any efforts to acquire the added land needed, eventually compelling government to settle some of those claims.
RAILWAY MODERNIZATION PLANS HALTED, FOR NOW
Several objections to the way how the tenders were prepared and processed for the initial work of surveys and design outlays for the new standard gauge railway line between Mombasa to the Ugandan border, via Nairobi, led to the cancellation and withdrawal of the tender award to the chosen company last week.
The contract, reportedly worth over 10 million US Dollars, was initially awarded to ITALFERR but then challenged by another bidder, or bidders, for alleged infringements of the Kenyan procurement laws and regulations. The complainants cited nearly two dozen violations and succeeded to have the tender award overturned. However, the time frame for the production of design documents for the new railroad is now considerably delayed and the Kenya Railway Corporation will be hard pressed to issue new tender documents as soon as possible and this time comply with all relevant rules and regulations to avoid further costly embarrassments.
It could not be ascertained at the time of going to press if ITALFERR would lodge a financial counterclaim for the work done up to this stage after having reportedly already mobilised for the work.
FLY 540 ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE CHANGES
Information was received last weekend that Fly 540 Tanzania has effected a number of schedule changes, affecting timings and the use of different aircraft on their routes between Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Arusha and beyond. More information, also about similar adjustments and changes in Kenya and Uganda can be sourced via www.fly540.com
MORE BEDS NEEDED SAYS TANZANIA TOURIST BOARD
The CEO of the Tanzania Tourist Board was quoted last week in the Tanzanian media that more top class accommodation was needed for the country if the ambitious targets set for increased tourist arrivals were to be met. Neighbouring countries have over the past years aggressively added hotels, resorts and safari accommodation in and outside their national parks, and countries like Rwanda and Uganda – the latter ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Summit – have brought thousands of extra rooms ‘on line’, together with world class meeting facilities to also tap into the profitable MICE market.
Kenya too, inspite of the 2008 setback has added accommodation at the coast and upcountry in selected areas now opening up for domestic and international tourism and is subsequently looking at record arrivals this year, as does Rwanda, while some of the others in the region are struggling to keep the pace.
Recent information about park developments also indicate that new lodges and safari camps are planned for the sprawling Selous Game Reserve, the Ruaha and Mikumi national parks while others of the Northern circuit parks will see new developments along the park boundaries, after TANAPA put their foot down and restricted additional permanent safari lodges from inside the parks like the Serengeti.
KEY GLOBAL CONSERVATION GROUPS OPPOSE SERENGETI HIGHWAY ROUTING
Information has emerged last week that three key global bodies concerned over the presently proposed routing of the so called Serengeti Highway have written to President Kikwete asking him to review his decision and support the ‘Southern Route’, not only to serve millions more people compared to the current plans but to save the Serengeti’s fragile ecosystem and allow the annual migration of wildebeest and zebras to actually survive and be preserved for future generations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature or in short IUCN, the head of UNESCO – which grants the hugely important ‘world heritage’ status and the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF have all written directly to the president urging him to reconsider his stand on the highway routing, while such bodies as the Frankfurt Zoologial Society, and other globally renowned zoological societies, civil society, the tourism sector and diplomats accredited to Tanzania too have in various measures of candidness spoken out against the planned route.
Thankfully alternative have been presented to Tanzania in regard of reaching the target areas through a more southerly routing, in fact opening access to more than 2 million more people to the rest of the country for travel and trade, but no final decision has been made yet as consultants’ reports are still awaited as to the anticipated environmental and biodiversity impact of having a road cut across the age old migration routes of the wildebeest and zebras.
Tourism is expected to suffer substantially should this routing go ahead and a global campaign against the ‘killer of the Serengeti’ would undoubtedly unfold, which could try to discourage visitors from coming to Tanzania and opting for other, more environmentally friendly safari destinations in the region. With tourism being one of the top foreign exchange earners and job providers – said to be in the region of over 200.000 directly employed personnel in the sector – in Tanzania, this could have potentially disastrous consequences for the country’s economic development and leave it once again trailing in the wake of the neighbours, all of whom are eyeing the highway plans with differing degrees of suspicion and apprehension.
ARUSHA – NAMANGA ROAD WILL BE READY BY EARLY 2011
Officials of ‘Tanroads’ in Tanzania have reaffirmed that the new highway from Arusha to the border with Kenya at Namanga will be ready as per the revised handover dates by middle of next year, without however giving a specific date to the media as yet.
The 105 km highway from Arusha to the Namanga border with Kenya is a crucial link for cargo and passenger traffic between Kenya and Tanzania and has been under construction since 2008, suffering several delays and construction interruptions along the way. Those were caused by angry residents who at times woke up to find their water supply pipes disconnected, their land intruded on by construction workers and companies or even being chased off their property to make way for work camps, material dumps and the road itself and in turn evenly caused by thefts of construction material and acts of overnight sabotage on equipment and materials, delaying work by the contractors.
Travel between Kenya and Tanzania, under the emerging new rules of the East African Community, is hopefully also being streamlined when a common Visa has been put into place, making it unnecessary for ‘internal’ passport and customs controls, as the region progressively returns to the ‘open borders’ of the ‘old East African Community’ of pre 1977, when all internal controls had been shelved in favour of a stronger regime of entry point controls.
Correspondingly therefore has the road between Namanga via Kajiado and Athi River to Nairobi also been undergoing major upgrading, and that part of the Arusha to Nairobi highway will be ready as scheduled by early 2011. Watch this space.
JET A 1 AND AVGAS FUEL BEING STOLEN AT DAR ES SALAAM AIRPORT
A source close to the airport in Dar es Salaam and the TCAA has last week confirmed that their security at the airport is grappling with major fuel thefts of Jet A 1 and AVGAS. It appears that a racket is siphoning off fuel from aircraft already fuelled at night and ready for an early morning flight, and the crew carrying out the pre-flight checks then come to realise that the fuel quantity in their logs does not correspond with what is actually found in the tanks. The official could however neither confirm how much fuel has gone missing in the recent pasts nor was able to shed any light on the method used by the thieves and if they were in league with those operating the pumping trucks or other equipment. Considering the general demands on state of the art security at and near international airports, the report left many wondering how such would be possible without authorities being able through closed circuit TV to spot and identify the culprits. Hmmm …
UNESCO FIRES WARNING SHOT OVER SERENGETI HIGHWAY
Information was received last week from participants of the UNESCO World Heritage Status meeting in Brazil, that the world body has made it clear that they were seriously concerned over plans by the Tanzania government to construct a highway across the migration routes. It appears that UNESCO officials have notified the Tanzanian government that they would be compelled to add ‘endangered’ to the Serengeti status, should the plans not be revised and the alternative more Southerly route taken into active consideration.
Conservation groups, NGO’s and individual, globally renowned conservationists from all corners of the world have written to the Tanzanian government against the planned routing, which as it stands cuts right across the age old migration routes of the great migration and may lead to a massive loss of animals should the construction go ahead and some 20.000 Facebook sympathisers have signed up to a dedicated site and signed various petitions against the plans.
Politically inspired and incited hot heads in Tanzania have subsequently vented their anger and uttered thinly concealed racist sentiments against their neighbours Kenya and ‘muzungus’, alleging that conservationists were attempting to deny Tanzanians a much needed road, while the facts speak against such false notions since the alternative road routing along the Southern edge of the Serengeti ecosystem asked for is by general consent not only shorter and cheaper to build but also reaching about two million more rural Tanzanians and yet ending in the same target area as the routing through the most critical part of the Serengeti.
UNESCO also let it be known that should construction of the highway indeed reach the park area, that the wording ‘endangered world heritage status’ would be removed with the original status altogether, stripping the Serengeti, and Tanzania tourism of one of the most sought after attributes given to an attraction and more than likely keeping visitors away, as the ‘anti this road routing’ alliance would then likely start to actively discourage visitors from coming to Tanzania less the plans would be changed at the last moment.
In an interesting development has a very senior source from Dar es Salaam also given the first faint indication that the routing could be revisited but only after the upcoming elections, explaining that the government in Dar was ‘disconcerted’ and ‘surprised by the strength of the sentiments expressed to them and by the many eminent persons who have opposed the road routing’. However, this remains to be seen and not only has the source demanded total anonymity but no other such source has since been secured offering a similar read of the present going on’s in Dar es Salaam over the ‘killer’ highway plans. Watch this space.
AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK GETS 10 MILLION USD BOOST
The new park management company ‘African Parks Network’ together with the Rwanda Development Board – Tourism and Conservation, have now reportedly injected about 10 million US Dollars into the infrastructure development of the Akagera National Park. The funds are intended to construct an electric fence, cut ‘fire barriers’ along the periphery of the park to prevent bush fires from outside spreading into the park itself and other programme components like tracks, roads and trenches.
APN reportedly contributed 80 percent of the funds as required under their existing MoU and joint venture with the Rwandan government while RDB will foot the bill for the remaining 2 million US Dollars.
The first phase of the management agreement is to run for 20 years but can be extended if mutually desired by the two partners and is a ‘first’ for Rwanda in divesting from the management of a key national park. ANP has experience in several African countries and is a not for profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and management.
CUSTOMER CARE TRAINING CONTINUES
The programme of training young Rwandans in the hospitality field in regard of customer care has continued with a further 50 graduating last week from their course at the Rwanda Institute of Management and Administration in Kigali.
Lack of customer care has been identified by the Rwanda Development Board – Tourism and Conservation as one of the constraining factors in making yet a better impression on visitors from abroad and subsequently a series of courses was planned which are now taking place at regular intervals across the country. Rwanda has recorded exceptional tourism growth in recent years and many more young Rwandans have found employment in the hospitality and safari sectors but require additional training in order provide the best possible service levels to tourists and business visitors. General work place related training courses are also being offered for those starting out in the industry and intent to making a lifelong career in the sector.
NEW CABINET REMAINS THE SAME
President Paul Kagame last week re-appointed his entire pre-election cabinet following the swearing in of the country’s Prime Minister Bernard Makuza on Monday last week in parliament in Kigali. President Kagame used the opportunity to thank members of parliament, and his cabinet, for the work done during his first 7 year term of office, achieving much of the initial agenda, and promised an unchanged commitment to bring economic prosperity to Rwanda, securing borders and ensuring peace and safety for all Rwandans, while continuing to work for reconciliation and harmonious relations amongst all citizens.
Rwanda has in recent years become a model for economic development and risen like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of the 1994 genocide, as a result of determined leadership and a vision to transform the country to a modern, democratic state. Visit www.rwandatourism.com for more information on the country’s national parks and tourism attractions, which today go well beyond the ‘just gorillas’ tag often attributed to Rwanda by envious onlookers within the region, who remain befuddled why Rwanda has made such great strides while others have seemingly stood still.
VICTORIA CARNIVAL ‘WILL BE A SUCCESS’ TO REMEMBER
The planned carnival festival in the Seychelles capital of Victoria, planned for the time of March 04 – 06, is receiving growing attention from around the world, since the Seychelles Tourist Board had sent out invitations to key carnival destinations to come to Mahe for next year’s planned inaugural festival.
The annual carnival season traditionally kicks off at 11.11 hrs a.m. on the 11th of November, at which time the major ‘carnival nations’ like Brazil or Germany start the formal countdown to the big week, celebrated just ahead of the annual Christian Lent season.
Special ‘floats’ are expected to also showcase the islands of Praslin and Denis, as well as others, to provide ‘local’ flavour besides the international floats coming from across the world.
The islands are expected to be rather fully booked over that period of time and it is highly recommended to secure flights and accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment. In fact, carnival fans from across the world will probably head to the Seychelles to witness the first ever such event and write it in their own record books. Seychelles, ‘another world’ but will all the trimmings from around the globe.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES AND SAA EXPAND THEIR CODE SHARES
Information was received last weekend that Ethiopian and South African have expanded their present code shared flights between Addis Ababa and Johannesburg, adding more ‘shared’ destinations. In South Africa this will be Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth within South Africa and Windhoek and Gabarone in the region, with the connecting flights operated by SAA.
In turn, the daily codeshared flights between SAA and ET on the Johannesburg to Addis route, presently operated exclusively by Ethiopian, will see new destinations added like Bahrain and Kuwait in the Gulf region but also Douala and Bamako in West Africa.
SAA is a member of the leading global Star Alliance and it is understood that an announcement about ET becoming an ‘applicant member’ is now not far off – giving some explanation as to the close cooperation between the two airlines.
And in closing today ‘a double dose’ with some quite remarkable material from ‘further down South’, courtesy of Gill Staden and her ‘The Livingstone Weekly’ – missing last week due to internet reception and transmission problems at her end, now thankfully overcome, putting her ‘back into business’ at last …
Elephant Orphan Swims to Safety!
News update from the Elephant Orphanage Project – 10th Sept 2010
To Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release Zambia’s orphaned elephants back into the wild
Another elephant orphan is about to join the surrogate herd at the Elephant Orphanage Project…
Little ‘Rufunsa’ (named after the area he was rescued) is now safe in the care of the EOP Elephant Keepers thanks to the residents of Rufunsa GMA.
Four days ago he swam across the Luangwa River with his mother from Zambia into Mozambique. Tragically his mother became stuck in the muddy banks when villagers found her and shot her dead! They attempted to also attack Rufunsa, but he managed to escape, sustaining slash wounds to his body. Zambian fishermen witnessed the event in astonishment as little Rufunsa managed to swim all the way back across the great river to Zambia, avoiding the many hippos and crocodiles – at only five months old this is an incredible feat! As he reached Zambian shores, exhausted, he was captured and brought to the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) at Luangwa Boma who contacted EOP.
On Tuesday Sport and Rachael headed to the scene (5 hours drive from Lusaka) with two EOP Keepers.
Rufunsa was re-hydrated and loaded into the Toyota Land Cruiser inside a large purpose made crate to make the journey to Lusaka, by road, where he is currently in quarantine. Once he is given the all clear by the ZAWA Head Vet he will make the next leg of his journey, by air, to Kafue National Park to join the other orphans at EOP – We will keep you posted on his progress…
At this young age Rufunsa is very vulnerable, so every precaution is being made to secure his health,
although only time will tell if he can recover physically, socially and emotionally from such a terrible ordeal!
I was contacted by Lin Barrie during the week. Lin is an artist in the Save valley (where the Blue Cross Rally started). It is a long way from us here in Livingstone, but Lin sent me a photo of some wild dog pups and they are so cute … that I had to add them in the Weekly. It is also good to know that wild dog are in that area and are breeding.
Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
The Gonarezhou National Park, in the Save Valley, is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The agreement was signed in 2000 between the governments of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique for its formation. Peace Parks has been working on the implementation since then. It has been, from what I can read, a grindingly-slow process. Here is a quote from one website:
While the opening of the Giriyondo Access Facility between Limpopo and Kruger national parks in August 2006 has greatly facilitated movement, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is yet to be officially opened. This will include the removal of further sections of the fence between the three countries. The transfrontier park can only be said to have been fully established once there is free movement of animals and people along the length of the international borders within the boundaries of the park. This is a process that could take a number of years to implement.
On the border with Mozambique, and part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, there is an exceptionally beautiful reserve known for its birdlife and home to rhino. Here is a quote from a recent article:
More than two years after a rhino-proof boundary fence was hacked down, one of South Africa’s last protected fragments of the natural world is being torn apart as politicians dither.
Daily the river forest diminishes as local communities transform chunks of Ndumo Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal into cabbage patches and maize fields.
Poaching is also rampant. This week, rangers came across the corpse of another white rhino next to the Phongola River, 3 km from the main tourist camp. Steel cable was wound around the animal’s head and flies buzzed around the spot on its face from where both its horns had been hacked.
Elsewhere, fishermen in boats poled along the river to inspect nets suspended below the water line of the last protected stretch of the old floodplain.
The story goes on and makes sad reading.
As Peace Parks continues to push for the development of the Transfrontier parks and the protection of Africa’s natural heritage, the human population continues to grow. All these people need to eat and there are no jobs for them. While ‘politicians dither’ and live the life of luxury the poor get poorer and our natural heritage suffers as a result.
Our natural heritage, though, has the largest potential for job creation. But land has become a political tool. We have seen the decline of Zimbabwe. Part of the Ndumo Game Reserve was given ‘back’ to the people as they claimed an ancestral right to part of it. This, of course, allowed access to the reserve and its potential to illegal gains.
Until we start to understand that the poor are very poor in Africa and that they need our help to live decent lives, our natural heritage will always be under threat and continue to decline. Peace Parks shows the people how the environment can be used to create employment and an income for the people, but, from my perspective, the population is outstripping the ability of our fragile environment to cope.
The people who live on this planet have a right to a good life, and that does not mean just giving them free food. Until the poor have a quality life they will continue to destroy the future for their children … because they have no choice …
Project Update August 2010:
A dog’s life.
We often marvel at the sociality of life as a painted dog and their caring nature. Greg describes it as “a kind of three musketeers’ approach of all for one and one for all.” On the whole, this is indeed a good representation of life within the pack. The old, sick and injured are often cared for and fed, while pups take priority when it comes to feeding. However it’s not all nirvana. In their daily life the dogs exist on a knife-edge, expending huge
amounts of energy in the search for food, avoiding conflict with larger, more powerful predators.
Life in the wild for painted dogs is extremely tough and can be brutal. A fact we were recently reminded of as we stood over the body of Blaze, one of the males in our embattled Kutanga pack. He had been with the pack at 7 PM as they hunted, the new moon providing them with enough light and extra cool hours for foraging. At 9 PM he was missing. The alarm bells were only sounded when Jealous caught up with the pack at 7AM the following morning and Blaze was still missing.
We immediately started searching in the area where he had been seen last and quickly picked up the signal from his VHF radio collar. He was not moving. I called Jealous on the radio and he joined me to walk into the bush. We had done this many times before but the presence of a pride of seven lions in the area added to the nervous tension. The signal from Blaze’s collar told us that he was not far away. As we approached, the signal did not change to a moving signal but remained at the familiar slow pulse of 30 beats per minute, a resting beat, but not something we
wanted to hear in this case. We soon found his body.
Bite marks on his head and back right leg gave some indication as to his cause of death but as we turned his body over we were shocked to see that he had been castrated.
We carried his body back to my Land Rover and drove to our Rehab where Greg was waiting. We
speculated over the injuries and concluded that a honey badger was probably the likeliest assailant. However there were clearly other injuries and a post mortem revealed that he had also been kicked in the chest, suffering two broken ribs. We concluded that Blaze, in his weakened state after being kicked, had perhaps been attacked by the honey badger, but we will never know
What we do know is that the Kutanga pack was left in turmoil again. The injury and ultimately the loss of Alpha male Squirrel had caused some unusual in-fighting in the pack earlier in the year. No sooner had that dust settled than we were dealing with the loss of the new born pups and now this.
The remaining members of the Kutanga pack appeared at our Rehab Facility the next day. Certainly no coincidence, a lot of haunting hoo calling indicated that they were looking for their lost pack mate. We feared that this incident may have been one too many for them to suffer and that the pack may dissolve. Squirrel had been the alpha male and after his death, Blaze had been seen mating with the alpha female. Thus we took advantage of them lingering near the rehab and managed to fit a GPS collar to the alpha female, Ester, and also a VHF collar to one of the other females. This quickly proved to have been worthwhile as the males started to hunt further afield, leaving the females outside our Rehab.
Several days would pass before they returned to briefly interact with the females before heading away again. Occasionally the females would join them on the hunt but soon returned to the Rehab and this pattern of behaviour continues today. Collectively they are spending much more time outside of Hwange National Park. On two occasions it was necessary to deploy our antipoaching
units into the area through which the dogs were moving. Areas notorious for poaching and
poorly protected by other stakeholders. On one such occasion our APU found the seven lions feeding on a buffalo that had died in a line of 30 snares. Nearby was the carcass of another
lion that had also died in a snare. The dogs were 500m from this!
As an organisation we are geared up to deal with issues such as the above and we receive tremendous support from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management, especially on the antipoaching side of things, however others could and should do more. Our Bush Camp
programme for the children is well documented and we intend to take this out into the community in a more proactive manner, as encouraged by the Minister of Environment himself and we are stepping up the working relationship with other NGOs in the region who focus more on development. Our Rehab facility is currently home to ten dogs, six of whom are being prepared for release back into the wild where they belong.
There is no such thing as a normal day at PDC and we never stop. Jealous, Wilton, Dought
and Foggie ensure the programmes run as smoothly as possible, while the rehab staff under Xmas
and the APU under Zulu continue, committed to their work.
And something to remember or put in your diary:
Zambezi International Rowing Regatta
IMPORTANT: CHANGE OF ZIMBABWE MOBILE NUMBERS: 091 becomes 077
Please note that Econet Wireless is changing all Zimbabwean mobile phone prefix numbers which start with 091 to 077 with effect from 2 October 2010. We are told that this change is in line with global regulations on numbering set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Only the first three digits of the current number will change from 091 to 077. The other seven digits remain the same. To allow a smooth changeover to the new 077 number, it will still be possible to make calls to Econet numbers using both the current 091and new 077 codes until 2 November. After this period a call to an Econet number will only be possible by using the new 077 prefix.
SOLENTA NOW FLYING HARARE-KARIBA-ZAMBEZI (LUSAKA LINK DUE SOON)
Solenta Aviation, which this year introduced flights between Victoria Falls and Bumi Hills on Lake Kariba, have taken delivery of their second 12-seater aircraft which is plying the Harare-Kariba route. Flights are available every day of the week except Thursdays and include an optional Lake shuttle service across the lake to Fothergill, Tiger Bay & Bumi airstrips on Tuesday, Fridays and Sundays, or a River shuttle service to safari destinations in Mana, Chikwenya & Chewore in the Zambezi Valley on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. A third aircraft, a 19-seater, will be introduced in October to connect Lusaka in Zambia, with Kariba and Bumi Hills. The schedule for this will be carefully timed to coincide with the British Airways flight into Lusaka from London. For more information, see this link: Solenta Aviation
ABUSE OF WILD AREAS MUST STOP! VISITORS PLEASE HELP!
Visitors numbers are steadily increasing into Zimbabwe. Especially popular are our precious National Parks, wildlife and wilderness areas.
But nobody wants to visit Kariba or the Zambezi valley and find scenes as depicted in these photographs and sent to WILD ZAMBEZI by concerned lovers of wild areas.
The rubbish at left was dumped on the Lake Kariba shoreline at Elephant Point in the Matusadona National Park (by a houseboat crew?).
The remains of a fire and burned rubbish (pictured at right) was found above Chitake Spring in the Mana Pools National Park (left by a group of self-drivers camping illegally in a non-designated spot?).
It gets worse:….
Walkers in both Mana Pools and Matusadona are finding piles of soiled toilet paper and human wastes at popular visitor stopping points everywhere – no apparent thought, by the perpetrators, it seems, to carry a small trowel and a box of matches with which to remove all evidence of their ….. passing.
Reports from Mana Pools tell of massive evidence of ‘off-track driving’, with tyre treads leading far into the bush – the trails sometimes marked by deposits of beercans and other litter. Tour operator vehicles are seen towing canoe trailers at high speed along the game viewing tracks, and insensitive drivers tear through Nyamepi campsite raising huge clouds of dust, with no consideration at all for other visitors.
There are reports of people ‘paintballing’ wild elephants in Nyamepi Camp. One group reportedly launched an unsilenced powered paraglider/microlight from one of the exclusive campsites, and proceeded to blast up and down the Mana river frontage in complete oblivion of the peace and enjoyment of other Park visitors. Happily, the National Park authorities confiscated the equipment.
The Matusadona shoreline is covered with plastic flotsam and jetsam – probably emanating mostly from kapenta fishing rigs – but that’s no reason for houseboats and fishing boats to add to it. Here, too, are the remains of illicit fires on the banks, the ashes – and beercans – left in situ. Also reported are houseboats running generators until late at night (the rules insist on a 6.00pm turnoff), and music audible at a distance of 3-4km (prohibited at any time.)
This appalling abuse of valuable wild areas is totally unacceptable – regardless of who is responsible for it. As readers of this newsletter, we need your help to fight it.
The Zimbabwe Parks Authority does not have the manpower to police visitors properly, and will welcome your assistance.
Here’s how you can help:
- Download a copy of the Respect the Wild Code of Conduct for Vistors in Wild Areas at this link: Respect the Wild Code
- Share it with all your clients, colleagues or friends who are visiting Zimbabwe
- Insist on ALL litter being removed from a National Park or other wild area and disposed of responsibly i.e. via urban disposal or recycling systems.
- If you come across other people’s litter, please collect it for responsible disposal.
- Bury all human waste and BURN toilet paper carefully so as to remove all evidence.
- Question your houseboat crew and/or tour operator on their waste disposal policy and insist that they LEAVE NO TRACE.
- Insist that houseboat crews and/or tour operators are sensitive to the environment and to other visitors in wild areas (cautious driving, no loud noise/music, no generators after 6.00pm.)
- Report all instances of unacceptable behaviour and breaches of Park rules to the nearest Parks Authority Office and/or to the Harbour Management, with details of time, place, and registration numbers of the vehicles or boats involved. Don’t have any qualms or conscience about doing it. If this behaviour is allowed to go unchecked, the wilderness quality we cherish will be destroyed.
- Please spread the word. Make your own disapproval of such behaviour clear to others you may know or meet. It’s important, because this small minority of offenders reflects badly on everyone.
“ZIMBABWE IS BEST: KEEP IT WILD” SAY ZAMBEZI SOURCE TO SEA KAYAK DUO
In August 2009, Zimbabwean-born Warren Willis and South African, Francois Kruger, set out to kayak the Zambezi River from its source near Mwini Lunga in Northern Zambia to its delta at the Indian Ocean in Mozambique. The two men completed their epic 3186km-long journey in May 2010, having split it into two parts.
They set out from Mwini Lunga in August 2009 (picture left) and by the end of September had passed
through some very wild country in Angola, paddled through Zambia and Caprivi, reached the lip of the Victoria Falls and rafted the Batoka Gorge before finally reaching Deka. Here they decided to conclude the first phase of their journey in time for Warren to return to the UK to attend the birth of his first child – a son, Benjamin, who was born in October.
In March 2010, the men returned to Deka to complete the gruelling second part of their trip, with the Zambezi in full flood. They traversed Lake Kariba, the middle Zambezi Valley, Lake Cahora Bassa (with its terrifyingly dangerous gorge), passed the confluence of the Mazoe and Shire Rivers and paddled through crocodile-infested waters on the Lower Zambezi, finally arriving at the Indian Ocean at Chinde, Mozambique, in May this year. They celebrated on the beach with champagne and cigars which they had carried all the way with them! (picture at right).
Their trip down Africa’s fourth-longest river was an amazing feat and made them acutely aware of the vital importance of the Zambezi’s wild areas. The pair plan to use their experience to help generate funds for conserving these areas. Warren’s comments on the overall trip are revealing:
“The approximate 750km that touches Zimbabwean soil is by far the wildest and least spoilt section of the river, and we have to do everything possible to keep it this way. The rest of the river has its moments and some stunning sections but there is an almost complete lack of wildlife especially noticeable in the heavily populated areas”.
“It is time that people such as myself who have grown up on the river start to put a little something back, otherwise in all likelihood we will lose it to the pressures of unscrupulous hunters/over hunting, rumours of oil exploration by the Chinese and general abuse…… In the future, when my son asks me “Where are all the buffalo/lion etc?”, I don’t want to have to tell him that we sat back and did nothing and/or shot them all.”
Read the story and see pictures of the duo’s amazing experience in more detail at this link: Source to Sea Kayak trip
MANA POOLS – GETTING HECTIC…IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
Reports coming out of Mana Pools indicate that it has been an extremely busy August and September for tourism in the Park. For details on the wildlife front, read Goliath Safaris’ August newsletter at this link: Lions’ Eyes and Butterflies
There are now two packs of wild dogs in the area and a healthy population of lions on the floodplain as well as the usual elephant bulls and cow herds now moving in to feed on their favourite feast: the apple-ring pods of the Acacia Albida trees which grow so prolifically on the sandy river terraces of the Zambezi and give Mana that special look of a parkland.
Apart from worrying reports about visitors to this special wilderness ruining it for others with their insensitive behaviour (see “Abuse of Wild Areas Must Stop” above), WILD ZAMBEZI is also disturbed to hear that Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlfe Authority are discussing new lodge development sites along the Zambezi River in Mana Pools with several tourism operators. This is in contradiction of the Mana Pools Park Management Plan carefully put together last year by the Authority itself, with the help of a leading biologist, and international conservation NGO and a team of relevant stakeholders.
It seems that in Zimbabwe these days, the lure of short-term gain at the expense of long-term sense is becoming the norm. The authorities and operators concerned would do well to heed the cautionary advice of Warren and Francois, whose courageous adventure down the whole of the Zambezi River (see story above) has given them the benefit of insights about the future of our precious wild areas here in Zimbabwe that most decision-makers do not have.
They would also be well to heed the advice of their own draft Management Plan (an illustrated summary copy of which is posted in the Mana Pools Park tourism office – relevant section shown above).
The plan has specific guiding principles regarding future tourism development in the Park. Note that “WILDERNESS QUALITIES WILL BE MAINTAINED” is top of the list and that “TOURISM AWAY FROM THE RIVER WILL BE ENCOURAGED” is second.
Furthermore, the Purpose of Mana Pools National Park is defined as follows:
Mana Pools National Park as a World Heritage Site will maintain wilderness values and will protect and conserve the Biological diversity and Ecological processes in and around the park; and in particular the Zambezi River, the flood plain and the “Mana” pools. The park will also play its role in the Mana/Lower Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and will contribute to the socio-economic development of the local communities and the region
As a major stakeholder in tourism to the wild areas of the Zambezi, WILD ZAMBEZI will be monitoring this worrying situation closely and will report back to its readers (and to the world at large) through our newsletters and website. In the absence of our own WILD ZAMBEZI blogspot (plans are in the pipeline), we encourage concerned readers to post informed and reasoned comments on the Facebook site: SAVE MANA POOLS.
KARIBA…don’t miss the 49thINVITATION TIGER FISH TOURNAMENT 6th, 7th & 8th OCTOBER 2010! www.kitft.co.zw
GEARING UP FOR THE TIGER TOURNEY.
The 49th Kariba Invitation Tiger Fishing Tournament is to take place on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of October 2010. This annual event attracts sponsored teams of fishermen from far and wide who come to enjoy some of the best sport fishing in Africa while baking in the hot summer sun.
Last year, 131 teams took part, including 10 from beyond Zimbabwe’s borders: Zambia, South Africa, the UK and even New Zealand! The event was won by Team Toyota Zimbabwe / Ram Petroleum. A total of 2951 fish were caught. The average weight per fish was 2.039Kgs and the average catch per angler was 5.346 fish. The winner of Biggest Fish prize (a Nissan vehicle) was Martinhus Van Rensburg. His Tiger weighed in at a massive 12.735kgs – a new tournament record! This year promises even better sport and prizes. Major sponsors are Mainstay, Nashua, Nissan and Zambezi Lager.
For more information, see www.kitft.co.zw
LUXURY ACCOMMODATION AND CRUISING FOR TIGER TOURNAMENT
The Zambezi Trader, Kariba’s largest passenger cruise ship is offering special cruise and accommodation rates during the Tiger Tournament for participants, sponsors, spectators, families and friends.
The ship has the capacity to accommodate 44 clients in 22 en suite cabins.
Daily cruises: $20 per person ($10 under 12yrs ) for non-resident passengers
Twin Cabins – $115 per day per person sharing.
Luxury Double Cabins – $150 per day per person sharing.
Presidential Suites – $175 per day per person sharing.
These rates are inclusive of 3 meals, National Parks, V.A.T, Z.T.A levy, use of tender boats for taxi to Charara harbour, game viewing or sundowner cruises but NOT drinks
Cabins can be booked individually. Group discounts available.
For more details see this link: Zambezi Trader
Also, don’t forget the Zambezi Trader’s monthly cruises up the lake to Bumi Hills/Musango/Tiger Bay and back:
30th September – 3rd October
28th – 31st October
25th – 28th November
MATUSADONA: EXCITING WILDLIFE NEWS
Jenny Nobes reports from Rhino Safari Camp in the Matusadona National Park on the southern shores of Lake Kariba:
“I just wanted to let you know that we’ve had sight of about 350 buffalo with lots of calves in the Mukadzapela area. I also saw Mvura our resident black rhino Mum mid August and if you look closely you can see the new calf wriggling around inside her! Dumisani Moyo (the Zambezi Society’s Rhino Conservation Field Co-ordinator) and I have promised to share as soon as we see a small rhinoceros in tow! Very very exciting! The lions are still breaking up into smaller groups to hunt and then regrouping – there seem to be 13 of them now with two males in the distance so a total of 15 altogether in our area.”
Now that the water level of the lake is finally dropping, there is at last some shoreline grass for the poor impala, waterbuck and other grazers whose food source had been completely inundated.
KARIBA: SCARY WILDLIFE NEWS
Visitors to the little town of Kariba which sprawls haphazardly over the hills surrounding the dam wall and the mopane flatlands at the edge of the lake, should be wary: this may look like any other little town, but it is in fact situated right in the middle of a wildlife corridor. Wild animals, including hippos and herds of buffalo and elephant can be found in the inhabited sections of the town at any time during the day or at night, lumbering along the roads or grazing quietly at the kerb. Do not be fooled. They may appear to be habituated to humans, but they are still wild. Give way to them at all times, never get too close and always remain alert to danger.
Two recent incidents involving bush-savvy Kariba residents with a great deal of wildife experience have prompted this warning. One was tragic and the other miraculously not. In August, Steve Kok a passionate Kariba wildlife conservationist from Charara left home on a mercy mission to find a buffalo which had been wounded in a snare. The buffalo found him first. His family found his battered body the next day. Not two weeks later, another dedicated Kariba bushman and conservationist, Geoff Blyth, was gored by an angry cow elephant while riding his bicycle along the “powerlines” road. He was rushed to hospital and was lucky to survive with very painful wounds, but no serious damage.
Even if you are experienced in the wild, it is advisable to stay well clear of wild animals, no matter that they look “tame” in an urban setting. If you are inexperienced, walk in the wild only with someone professionally qualified to guide you. Be especially careful when fishing or walking near the shoreline, and never swim in the lake. Kariba has a very large population of extremely large crocodiles.