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Jul 24th, 2005, 07:48 PM
  #1
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Paging Bwanamitch...

Hey Bwana, please contact me at
[email protected]
Thanks
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Jul 25th, 2005, 04:47 AM
  #2
bwanamitch
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tashak,
I will do so at about 22:00 UTC.
The "Lower Zambezi, which way forward?" thread has disappeared for yet unknown reasons. You can find a backup of the original postings on my server at http://www.bums-aus.de/censored/Fodors-4-34652138.htm
Mitch
 
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Jul 25th, 2005, 04:54 AM
  #3
bwanamitch
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PS: tashak, you can find my email address at http://www.bwanamitch.net/About/Contact.e.html, below the form fields.
Mitch
 
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Jul 25th, 2005, 06:30 AM
  #4
 
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Mitch,

For I would like to apologize for allowing the last thread to go in the direction that it did. It is just that I have been working hard, in the interest of the Zambian wildlife and people, to get others to consider Zambia as a safari destination. Despite the incident you reported, I believe Zambia is an excellent ecotourism/photosafari destination.

I would like to work together with Tasha, you and anyone else that is interested to find a solution on how we may jointly put pressure on ZAWA, the Zambian government, the hunting outfitters and even some of the photosafari camps that may not be doing as much as they can be doing to help the situation.

With the censoring of the thread, I was unable to post quite a bit of research I did...I would like to be compensated by Fodors for about 90 minutes of my time actually!

Although this may seem counterproductive at this point, I thought it was important to tell you about a hunting concession known as Chewore North that sits right across the river from the center of Lower Zambezi National Park and is 45 kms in width, meaning it really share quite a bit of river with the Lower Zambezi National Park.

Chewore North is one of the most celebrated Zimbabwean hunting destinations in existence. The hunting of elephants, buffalo, crocodile, and yes, lions, all occurs here in both Chewore North and Chewore South. In the following photo you will see a group of hunters with a crocodile kill...in the background, a very short distance away, is Lower Zambezi NP on the other side of the river:

http://www.nyakasangasafaris.co.zw/zim_area.htm

Here is a map of Chewore North:

http://www.cmsafaris.com/location.htm

And a hunting video showing elephant hunting in Chewore North:

http://www.booktrail.com/Video_HuntA...Volume%207.asp

Chewore North is directly opposite Old Mondoro (jointly owned by Chiawa Camp and Sausage Tree Camp) and very close to each Sausage Tree Camp and Chiawa Camp. Elephants that were just at Sausage Tree Camp or Chiawa Camp could cross the river and be in Chewore North in very little time...possibly a matter of minutes.

My point with the above is that the photosafari camps in the Chiawa GMA should not be singled out for scrutiny when there is elephant hunting taking place on a regular basis (and has been for many years) just across from the river from Chiawa Camp and Sausage Tree Camp. Does this make me want to visit each of these camps any less? No, I believe they are both excellent camps. The only reason I did not choose them is because they were honestly out of my budget as originally there were to be four of us on my safari, and I was footing the bill.

However, two of my party cancelled and by then I felt committed to Chongwe River Camp and Kasaka River Lodge, but even so, I do believe that Kasaka and Chongwe are going to prove to be beautiful camps in very good wildlife areas, and at a 65% discount over Chiawa or Sausage Tree Camp. I will repeat that I have no commercial interest in either Chongwe or Kasaka, but like anywhere else (for example Simbambili or Londolozi Bateleur in the Sabi Sand) I hold them to be excellent values and will not hesitate for a second to recommend them to my fellow Fodorites.

Anyway, I think we share common end goals and that is seeing that the wildlife is afforded as much protection as possible. Therefore, I hope we may work past our differences and form some sort of coalition with Tasha and other interested individuals. I honestly believe that you, Bwana Mitch, are in a unique position to help since you have a very well known website. Whatever I may do to help, I will do. I will let Tasha lead the way, because the only way that I know how to help is to continue recommedning Zambia, and when I do so, let it be known that I am not recommending a place that is depleted of its wildlife. There is plenty of wildlife in the Lower Zambezi and an enormous amount of wildlife in South Luangwa, which is way I will be returning to these areas for the third consecutive year at the end of next month. There is no place I would rather visit, and for the money, there is no place else that comes close to its value. High season Zambia is about the same price as the lowest season Botswana...I am talking about February and March in Botswana when it is grass that is two meters high!

Anyway, I would like to get back on the right foot, and really do something positive to correct the situation in the Lower Zambezi and anywhere else we can lend a helping hand. Meanwhile, I am confident that I will have a great time and see more than enough wildlife at Kasaka River Lodge and Chongwe River Camp.
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Jul 25th, 2005, 06:37 AM
  #5
 
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I would like to share with the board, an e-mail response that I received from Mvuu Lodge, which was the lodge that the unhappy Getaway subscriber stayed at and reported negatively about:


From : Info <[email protected]>
Sent : Monday, July 25, 2005 3:49 AM
To : "Rocco Morelli" <[email protected]>
Subject : Re: Poaching / Trophy Hunting Near Mvuu Lodge

| | Junk E-Mail | Inbox



Dear Rocco,

Unfortunately we do have a bit of poaching in our area from time to time (this is Africa after all) but it really is not a big problem at this stage as all the lodge owners rally really hard to protect their investments. Although Gavin's letter to Getaway did give our valley a bit of negative advertising it also went a long way to waking the Wild Life authorities up a bit, realizing the fauna and flora is really what tourists come to visit us for. Everything has returned to normal once again.

As for the fishing comments, clients that came in the week after Gavin caught so many fish that it made a mock of Gavin's comments. But once a year the Chieftainess has a celebration and over this period the locals are allowed to net a certain amount of fishing for this occasion but once that is over all returns back to catch and release.

Hope this helps to put you in the picture but please don't hesitate to give me a call if you need more information.

Kind regards,

Lyn Zwiegelaar
Mvuu Lodge Zambia

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Jul 25th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Thanks to both of you for the work you've done pulling together this important info on Zambian wildlife. And thanks for the backup bwana!

Just for the record, I'll note my frustration with lodge/camp owners who seem to want to present a "happy face" to tourists. I really understand why they do this (after all, some tourists want a completely "happy" experience that does not include stories about poaching, disputes over wildlife management and local corruption. At one level, I understand this, but at another I find it frustrating, because the people who do enjoy and learn to love this wildlife think it is safe and that is is not under threat. And they are the very people, the only people who will probably be moved to do something about it.

To me, wildlife under threat is a reality, and it makes me want to visit it sooner and more often, while it is still there. It does not deter my tourist trips at all, because there really is no danger to tourists...only danger to tourism in the longer run.

So my advice is visit Zambia, now absolutely. When you are there, tell the guides, and the managers that you are interested in conservation, ask lots of questions, and don't accept bullsh*t answers. (Maybe we should post a threat about the right questions to ask...) Then become an activist. Tourist complaints will have an impact I believe. It may be the only thing that does.
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Jul 25th, 2005, 06:00 PM
  #7
bwanamitch
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Rocco,
thanks for your thoughts and information.

tashak,
thanks for your clear statement, too.

Now, after reading this wonderful letter from Mvuu Lodge, I really feel sorry that I've ever posted this misleading information. If even the people of Mvuu Lodge which is next to Mtondo Camp (one of the two camps listed on the hunting operator's website) say everything's okay, about what should we worry? As direct neighbor of Zambezia Wildlife they should know what's going on - or do I miss here something?
(Ggggrrrhhh...)

There's an interesting paper,
http://www.conservationfinance.org/D...a%20report.pdf
where you can read in the Lower Zambezi Appendix, that in the last years the hunting took place in the area west of Zambezia Wildlife (Mtondo Camp). If this hasn't changed with the recent introduction of elephant hunting, I see no negative consequences for all the photographic camps on the eastern side of Chiawa GMA. The question is: hasn't it changed?

Sorry, I can't tell more this time - it's 4am local time and I need some sleep.

Mitch

PS: 55 days to go (where? of course Zambia!)
 
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Jul 26th, 2005, 07:23 PM
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Mitch,

Thanks for that link to that very informative report. I have only skimmed through that report, but a couple observations...

(From Page 9) As long as commercial hunting is bringing in 59% of the revenue, while "tourism" is only bringing in 35% of the revenue, it will be an uphill battle to stop the hunting.

Then again, we must ask ourselves if it is in the best interests of the animals to actually stop the hunting. If the hunters move out before their areas are occupied by ecotourists, then the poachers move right in. At least the hunters pay for their murderous ways...but the poachers get away with murder for free, with no benefits going to the parks.

(From Page 10)

Why would Sioma Ngwezi, a park that is classified as "depleted", receive more funding than Lower Zambezi? At what point is a park written off as a loss in order to protect parks that still have a chance such as Kafue and Liuwa Plains.

I find it really sad that Zambia has to pay SO MUCH of its gross domestic product out in loan repayments to wealthy nations. I don't know if this is correct, but I read in the Bradt Zambia guide that about 1/3 of Zambia's GDP is paid out in loan payments to wealthy nations...this is about triple what is spent on education and medical care for its people, and who knows how much more than is allowed for the protection of its wildlife!

Also, I find it very sad that the USA is willing to spend tens of billons of dollars on the war in Iraq and rebuilding of Iraq but the majority of aid that we pledge to Africa will likely go towards the fight against AIDS. Who will benefit here...the American doctors and pharmaceutical companies?

I am encouraged by the report on Page 13 that shows that for 2003, tourism will have outcontributed hunting for ZAWA's income. So now it is up to people like us to put a boot in ZAWA's @$$ and make sure they are looking out for the animals best interests instead of the hunters and poachers best interests.

Ultimately, I do believe that Zambian wildlife will prevail.

With South Luangwa, North Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue, I believe that a very nice wildlife circuit already exists. However, if Sioma Ngwezi, Liuwa Plains and other places may be protected or rehabilitated, that would make Zambia all the better.

I am going to request to visit Conservation Lower Zambezi headquarters during my visit to see what more I may do to help. There is so much more that may likely be done, but it is not being handled correctly.

Just some ideas...

The same way that there is a box for tips for the staff, there should be a box for donations to Conservation Lower Zambezi.

Conservation Lower Zambezi should get more serious about its newsletter and send out a more regular newsletter to subscribing members. Allow some of us dumb (and wealthy) tourists to be MEMBERS of Conservation Lower Zambezi and contribute our MONEY. Send me a newsletter every quarter and I will agree to a $100 per year membership. Find 99 others like me and CLZ has just raised its receivables by $10,000 per year! What would the cost be...a few hundred dollars on the electronic newsletter, if even that?

Although this sounds dangerous, I would pay to do it. Allow me, a tourist, to accompany CLZ on a 5 night patrol. I will pay for the entire patrol AND sign a waiver!

There is just so much more that should be done. None of my ideas cost any money. Hasn't anyone else (in a position of authority) thought of these things? Of course I want to help, but those that are right there in the middle of the action (the photosafari lodge owners, especially) must really pick up the slack!
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Jul 26th, 2005, 09:00 PM
  #9
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bwana, don't take too much comfort from Mvuu's response-- whether because of timing or concern over the area's image, I don't think this letter tells the whole story. In fact recent news indicates that the situation is far worse than that Getaway article indicated...I'll email you more details, but it will take more time than I have tonight. Thanks for your email...I'll be in touch.

And Roccco, you have some good ideas...let's all keep tallking about this.
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Jul 27th, 2005, 01:45 AM
  #10
bwanamitch
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tashak,

Don't get me wrong - my statement to the Mvuu letter was meant to be ironic, or even a little sarcastic. Sorry, if my limited English doesn't make this clear. This letter is exactly what I've expected from camp owners in that area, and imo it's absolutely bullsh*t.

Rocco,

regarding Sioma Ngwezi: at that time African Parks (www.africanparks-conservation.com) still planned to manage the park and made surveys in the area. However, they dropped these plans recently because game counts showed that there wasn't much game left in the area.

I will post some more later on...

Mitch
 
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