Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Noise pollution impact fears for Vic Falls elephants

Noise pollution from helicopter flights over Victoria Falls could badly affect important elephant herds in Zimbabwe, environmentalists have warned.

They say senior government ministers are backing plans for a four-fold increase in tourist flights.

It is part of attempts to take advantage of an expected tourist boom when neighbouring South Africa hosts next year's football World Cup.

Work has already begun on new helipads but without official permission.

Zimbabwean Environment Minister Francis Nehema says no environmental impact assessment has been made - and without it the scheme cannot go ahead.

"It doesn't matter who you are. We want it done. It is a prerequisite," he said.

Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe says at present just five helicopters fly over the falls at any one time.

That figure is set to grow to around 20, as tourists scramble to secure stunning aerial views of one of the world's most spectacular sights, he says.

But environmentalists fear excessive noise pollution will have an adverse effect on the behaviour patterns of the elephants.

And Deliwe Utete from non-governmental organisation Environment Africa says if the elephants flee it could have worrying repercussions for the resort's entire ecosystem, affecting thousands of wild animals and birds.

Source: Noise fear for Zimbabwe elephants (19/06/09)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Vic Falls Heritage Status Threatened

Victoria Falls World Heritage status is under threat after two hoteliers at the prime resort town petitioned the World Heritage Commission against noise pollution in the town.
The hoteliers, The Victoria Falls Hotel and the Kingdom, separately wrote to the World Heritage Commission saying noise generated by frequent flights over the Falls and through gorges and the number of licences given to helicopter operators were a cause for concern.
They warned that if left unchecked they 'pose the single biggest threat to our status'.
According to letters seen by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, the hotel groups say the flights over the hotel were depriving their guests "of a quiet and relaxing environment."
"On behalf of the Victoria Falls Hotel, I would like to register a complaint against the helicopters and the noise they produce which has a negative impact on the environment and likewise destroys the atmosphere in our hotel and grounds," reads the letter.
"Daily we have to endure the noise and constant irritation from these aircraft which fly directly over and above the Victoria Falls Hotel," the report said.
Said the letter: "If one considers that current hotel occupancies are running at approximately 20% of capacity surely when normal higher occupancies return the environment cannot sustain the impact of the increased flights, increased operators and increased frequency of the helicopters."
At present there are two operators flying: Zambian United Air Charters with two helicopters, Batoka Skies (three helicopters) and Zambezi Helicopters with two helicopters.
The Independent understands that plans are at an advanced stage to license up to eight more operators.