In Zim, your tourism dollars at work

Oct 18th, 2006, 12:08 PM
  #1  
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In Zim, your tourism dollars at work

Must read for those thinking about travelling to Zimbabwe under dictator Robert Mugabe. . . .

The economic chaos engulfing Zimbabwe is
decimating the country’s once teeming wildlife, according to a
conservation group, which painted a grim picture of nature reserves
staffed by poorly trained rangers who cruelly kill the animals they are
meant to protect.
In one case, rangers pumped at least 40 bullets into an elephant
suspected of encroaching on a settlement in remote northwestern
Zimbabwe, said the independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force in a
report released Tuesday.
A witness told the task force the elephant appeared to have been
“kneecapped” in the first bursts of fire. Several minutes and at least
40 shots later, a single heavy caliber shot was heard.
The rangers used AK-47s, while heavier firepower might have meant a
more humane death. The animal’s meat was sold to local residents, the
task force said.
Another elephant was shot 16 times.
Both animals were shot in full view of “disgusted and heartbroken”
tourists, some of whom vowed not to return to Zimbabwe, said the task
force, which was formed in 2001 by a group of local environmental
activists concerned about illegal poaching and government seizure of
wildlife preserve land.
“On the one hand, Zimbabwe is trying to promote tourism, and on the
other it is destroying any chances of reviving it,” said the task force
in its latest monthly report.
No comment was immediately available from the government or state
wildlife officials.
Christina Pretorius of the South Africa-based International Fund for
Animal Welfare called the situation in Zimbabwe’s nature reserves
“outrageous. Absolutely outrageous.”
“Zimbabwe wildlife is absolutely unmanaged,” she said.
In total, at least five elephants were shot by rangers looking for a
rogue elephant that killed a safari park caretaker in the Chirundu
district in the Zambezi River valley on the border with neighboring
Zambia, 190 miles northwest of Harare, the conservation task force
said.
Problems with rogue elephants have increased in Zimbabwe as the
mighty mammals roam into villages in search of food and water. Although
no reliable figures exist, Zimbabwe’s elephant population is generally
thought to be on the rise, as it is in neighboring South Africa. But
whereas South Africa is able to manage its herds, there is no control
in Zimbabwe.
Numbers of other animals, by contrast, have plunged since President
Robert Mugabe began seizing white owned-farms and game reserves five
years ago.
“The population of antelopes is being decimated by poaching, be it
for the pot or for the illegal sale of their body parts,” said
Pretorius.
Rhino populations have also been hit hard by poaching, she said.
One witness told the task force that four years ago the Zambezi
River flood plain teemed with animals. “Today you are lucky to see an
impala (African antelope) down there over a weeklong period,” the
report quoted the witness as saying. The impala used to be one of
Zimbabwe’s most widespread and prolific animal species but has fallen
victim to rampant poaching.
The group said that in the 5,400-square-mile Hwange National Park,
the population of lions was down from more than 2,000 to 18 males and
about 200 females.
Wildlife experts said this was largely due to the shortage of
antelope and other prey, combined with the breakdown of artificial
waterholes. They said this was forcing the lions to move to areas —
mainly in Botswana — where they could survive.
The report revived criticism of the state wildlife authority,
accused of indiscipline in its ranks, with some disgruntled and
underpaid rangers profiteering on meat and illegal ivory.
The National Parks and Wildlife Authority lets its rangers and
staffers in bush areas shoot a “meat quota” for themselves and
sometimes supply surplus meat to villagers bordering reserves to
discourage poaching.
Visitors to the state-run Chivero conservancy, 20 miles west of
Harare, this week reported seeing no wildebeest and were told by
rangers most of the herd was shot for “ration meat.”
Like most government departments, the parks authority has suffered
from the nation’s worst economic crisis since independence from Britain
in 1980. Acute shortages of hard currency, gasoline, equipment and
spare parts have brought some of its operations, including some
anti-poaching patrols, to a near standstill.
Its revenues have been hit by a sharp decline in foreign tourism in
five years of political and economic turmoil.
In the Hwange National Park, only donations of fuel and volunteer
labor have kept 34 of its 53 artificial watering holes supplied with
water from wells equipped with gasoline-fueled pumps.
The task force said it recently bought 16 new pumps and provided
spare parts for others. The watering holes were created as a
conservation measure in dry areas of the park to attract wild animals —
and tourists — away from natural water sources where an overpopulation
of animals was destroying their habitat.
The task force alleged hunting concessions, controlled largely by
members of the ruling party elite, were spilling inside the park’s
boundaries, where ancient teak, redwood and mukwa trees were also being
commercially felled in violation of conservation laws.
tripster is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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hmmm...and this just in from African Bushcamps about Somalisa Camp in Hwange:

Somalisa has definitely earned its reputation as the home of incredible giants, the elephants. The camp is constantly inhabited by these amazing creatures as the camel thorn acacias have dropped their seed pods. They are incredible respectful of the camp and seem to blend in well with the surrounds as though the camp has been there for ages.

The camp pan is a busy spot and often we wake up to lions curled up around the camp fire enjoying its warmth on a winter's morning.

The white rhino have become a common sighting in the northern part of our private concession and the gemsbok (Oryx) have permanently moved back to the area and will continue to as it gets drier.

Somalisa's most epic views can be enjoyed whilst sipping a cocktail of sorts by it's uniquely positioned swimming pool or hammock.
matnikstym is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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More Zimbabwe articles:

http://allafrica.com/stories/200610021168.html (Zim government hands over four rhinos to Rani Resorts in Victoria Falls, owner of Stanley & Livingstone, for conservancy project)

http://allafrica.com/stories/200610180414.html (Zim security officers exchange gunfire, arrest Zambian suspects and recover elephant tusks from 11 poached elephants)

http://allafrica.com/stories/200610120485.html (Zim government accepts wildlife based land policy; illegal settlements to be moved away from wildlife to protect wildlife)


Given the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe, one thing that seems to be right in Zim is their wildlife record.

I am proud to say that I will be spending upwards of three weeks in Zimbabwe next June and I expect Zim to make a recovery, sooner than later.

Tripster, just a reminder, it is against Fodors regulations to post an entire article the way you have done.

Here are a couple reports from Wilderness Safaris for their Makalolo Plains (Hwange) camp and a report from Pamushana in the Malilangwe Private Game Reserve:

(Makalolo Plains, Hwange, Sept. 2006)

http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/ne...item_id=340374

(wild dog, cheetah, white rhino, leopard, lion, wild cat, striped polecat, roan, sable, elephant, giraffe, hippo, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra and a lot more...how many other places in Africa can onesee this kind of variety...not only the Big Five but cheetah, wild dog, roan, sable and wildebeest, too).

Kim Wolhuter Video Diaries from Pamushana in Malilangwe Private Game Reserve.

>>>>>Malilangwe is very proud to announce that Kim Wolhuter, a gold medal winner at the New York Film Festival, will be based at the Malilangwe Private Wildlife Reserve from 1st May 2006.
Kim is a National Geographic wildlife film director and will be based at Malilangwe for the next four years. He will be working on a number of projects and will produce wildlife documentaries using the Malilangwe wildlife and conservancy as "the stars and backdrop of the shows"!<<<<<<<

http://www.pamushana.com/content/dia...aries-2006.php


Tripster, I think it is irresponsible to post messages of this sort. You can find wildlife abuses in just about every country but I think if one took a more balanced approach and weighed the good against the bad, one would come to the conclusion that Zimbabwe should be SUPPORTED rather than ABANDONED.

If your goal is to get others to boycott Zimbabwe, I think you are just proving the opposite and may want to reconsider future posts on the subject. There is enough evidence to contradict your position and I, for one, will passionately support the Zim wildlife, and expect to have a true impact on getting others to visit, as well.

I think you should be ashamed of yourself for trying to get others to boycott Zimbabwe when the Zim people and wildlife will only benefit through increased tourism. Regardless of Mugabe's other tactics, the Zim people and wildlife should and will be supported by those who truly care about them, myself included.
Roccco is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 01:51 PM
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The people of Zimbabwe shouldn't be punished for having a terrible leader. Would it be fair for people to punish the people of the USA for their leader?

I just returned from Zambia. Initially I wasn't going to visit Zimbabwe. However, the Zambian side of Victoria Falls is currently completely dry. I wasn't going to miss the Falls after travelling all that way so I did a day trip to Zimbabwe. Yes my visa money supported the government but my tourist dollars helped the people more than Mugabe.
RBCal is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 02:29 PM
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RBCal,
Was it you who was recently convinced that Zimb. was a place that no one should think about setting foot in. If I'm wrong, I apologize ahead. If it was you, it looks like you had a change of heart, for this I am glad.
Sherry
cybor is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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p.s. if we in the US were punished for bad leadership we would be in deep wildebeeste $hit, btw.
cybor is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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This seems very political for a travel board.

The atrocities in Zimbabwe are nothing new. People will travel where they wish, whether you post an article or not.

I understand you want to save wildlife, but it seems most people who can afford safaris also read newspapers and can comprehend their travel impact without coaching.

Peterman
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Oct 18th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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Peterman,
I agree, but this argument pops up a couple of times a year.
matnikstym is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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Hey, you guys are shooting the messenger.
I'm just trying to give you another side other than what the shills like Rocco who are selling safaris to Zim want you to hear.
If you don't care, no big deal. That's your choice.
tripster is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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Sorry, Tripster. I just posted something along those lines separately.

Please see "Travel Agents Please Identify Yourselves" and add your comments.

It takes a keen eye to sift through all this selling. I've suggested that the travel agents be upfront about it.

I just thought the Zimbabawe debate was old news around. No hard feelings.

Peterman, NOT a Travel Agent

Peterman
Peterman is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:13 PM
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Dear Mr. Peterman,
Please define travel for us so that we'll know which lines one should not cross to remain apolitical.
Wouldn't it be nice if:
1.We could believe all the information that our unbiased papers publish
2. Our governments were supplying the media and the public with timely and pertinent info. that didn't have any agenda, so to speak. And that we all had as many hours as needed per day to keep up with all manner of media regarding every geographical location

3. We didn't have to speak to locals and other travelers to such regions for the best info.

You must have had somewhat of an idea that this thread was not about what not wear when in Zimb. before you opened it to take peek - so why he stern putdown. It's all discussion.
Peace;
cybor is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:25 PM
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Now I'm late for dinner, but I do want to fast reply-

We are meeting some friends who do charity work in Africa and when I saw the opener, I thought this was going to be about a new orphanage or charit work project. Just got all wound up.

I'll try to keep my distance and let the "regulars" alone. My apologies for the intrusion.

Peace to all and to all a goodnight!

Peterman
Peterman is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Actually, when I first came back a little over a week ago from our trip to Zambia, where we spent a week of our trip on the Lower Zambezi opposite Zimbabwe and tha Mana Pools, I DID raise the issue re. Mugabe and the wisdom of traveling to Zimbabwe.

It was more in the context of what guides who had worked and lived there had said. But, boiled down, their concerns had more to do with the poor economy, rampant inflation, and their inability to earn a living--yes, due primarily to Mugabe's rule, than due to poor opportunities to see wildlife. To the contrary, they yearned to return.

I do agree that it's the people who suffer if we choose to avoid Zimbabwe for political reasons. And, as our wonderful guide, Victor, at Sausage Tree told us, it's tourism $$$'s that have the best opportunity for turning local residents' behavior around. He knows first hand, since, as part of his job as head scout for the National Park, he had to visit villagers that had been poaching and whose villages were being invaded by elephants looking for food and try to convince them that it was in their interest to protect wildlife. He said, and I do believe him, that the situation has gotten much better than in the past, when he used to sometimes fear for his safety because of the hostility of the villagers.

Finally, I do resent the nasty comment directed at Rocco. He is THE reason that we have just experienced the most amazing, wonderful trip of our lives (and we ve been to some very cool, exotic places). When we first discovered this forum, we were lost in the maze of trying of safari choices and vendors. It was over a period of many weeks that Rocco conveyed a tremendous amount of information that he had acquired first hand, and a path out of the maze. It was only quite late in the process that Rocco had offered that he (and Julian) had put together Destiny Africa, and there was no pressure for us to book for him. And BTW, if there is any country that Rocco "pushes," it's Zambia--and for good, no great reason--NOT Zimbabwe.

So, I won't specualate what tripster's motivation is, but his content and tone are quite contrary to what I've come to expect from this forum. And, about Rocco, he is FLAT, DEAD wrong.

Jim
steeliejim is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 04:44 PM
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Tour operator here (as if it was a secret).

Also a Zim advocate here and have been since I first stepped foot in Zimbabwe in March 2002, nearly four years before I started my tour operation.

Easy for some to say to boycott Zimbabwe when it is not your family that is out of work and hungry (and likely poaching wildlife) because of the steep decline in tourism.
Roccco is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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SteelieJim,

Thanks for the support.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have helped travelers even after they have already booked with another agent...happens all the time and there is no resentment on my side, whatsoever.


Tripster,

(Why I waste my breath, I don't know)

For whatever it is worth, my efforts would be far better spent just sending clients to South Africa or elsewhere than trying to convince them to go to Zimbabwe. Helllloooo...you brought up Zimbabwe...I only poked a hole in your own propoganda. I don't think I have spoken about Zimbabwe for quite some time but when I see someone like you who would sooner that another safari guide or other staff is put out of work and have little choice but to turn to subsistence poaching to feed themselves, you had better believe that it will light a fire under me and generate a response. But I think that was your intent and that you are merely a troll. Only for the benefit of those who may otherwise be swayed by your dangerous post do I step forward to try to undo any possible damage that you may do to the Zim people and wildlife.
Roccco is offline  
Oct 18th, 2006, 06:58 PM
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santharamhari
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Tripster,

Africa Geographic magazine had articles not so long ago stating that the animals are doing well in places like Hwange and that ppl need to go to Zim to help the lodges stay alive etc etc., there was a rather lengthy thread with a similar debate not so long ago........so i wont reiterate the same stuff.

I'm glad that i will be hearing first hand accounts from Dennis and Rocco from their upcoming Zim visits. Also, i think there were recent other travellers to Zim, but we are still awaiting their trip reports.

Hari
 
Oct 19th, 2006, 07:09 AM
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I read the same article in this mornings local newspaper and have to say it made my blood boil.
Whether we like the Mugabe regime or not, Zimbabwe desperately needs tourists back. Zimbabwe is an unbeleivably beautiful country and I have spent many a good time there. We always used to refer to Zimbabwe as "Gods own country" and beleive me it is. Just last week when I was in Zambia both of my guides at the two lodges I was at were both Zimbabweans working to send money back home to their families in Harare. Both also are yearning to return home. But not all Zimbabweans are that fortunate and many have spilled over the border into South Africa in search of jobs but many do not get them so have to resort to crime in order to survive. What a terrible way to survive.
I fully support the return of tourism to Zimbabwe which will help to eventually stabilise the economy, bring families back together and also beleive it or not reduce crime in South Africa. The general population of Zimbabwe need us. Lets support them.
Mark
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Oct 19th, 2006, 07:28 AM
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santharamhari
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Yes, i fully agree......we need to support the people and wildlife of Zim by going there.......just my opinion.

It's not like i'm saying this because of the lower price of safaris to Zimbabwe in comparison to other Southern African safaris.....

Hari
 
Oct 19th, 2006, 07:49 AM
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Let's boycott France and spend our money in Zimbabwe.
napamatt is offline  
Oct 19th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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santharamhari
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Napamatt,

Following the Champions trophy cricket?

Couple of the tournament favourites stuggling to hang on.....

Hari
 

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