Footsteps Through Time

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Victoria Falls tourist arrivals slump

(Zimbabwe) Tourist arrivals at Zimbabwe’s prime resort, Victoria Falls have plunged to below 85% on average in 2015 compared to last year’s numbers due to the introduction of the value added tax (VAT) and depreciation of regional currencies, an official has said.

Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president, Clement Mukwasi, told NewsDay that tourist arrivals in Victoria Falls were expected to fall to below 85% compared to last year in the same period. “We are expecting to achieve below 85% of last year’s figures on average,” Mukwasi, who is an executive of the Shearwater Adventures Group, said. He said the numbers of tourist arrivals were declining as regional currencies were weaker, making Zimbabwe more expensive compared to its neighbours.

“You will find out that tourists from these countries, such as South Africa, prefer to go to countries with weaker currencies than theirs,” he said.

Tourism players are still crying foul over the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists’ payments for accommodation and tourism-related services.

The move has been described as “not intelligent” by Tourism minister Walter Mzembi, as it makes the country an expensive destination.

The industry is also on the recovery path, following the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa last year, which saw Zimbabwe losing business worth $6 million in 2014, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

According to a report by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Zimbabwe’s overall tourist arrivals were at 930 276 in the first six months of 2015, compared to 876 163 registered in the corresponding period last year boosted by mainly South African visitors.

Mukwasi remained optimistic that next year would be better than 2015, as they had introduced a number of measures to keep the industry moving such, as three-tier approach system.

Meanwhile, Mukwasi commended the move by the government to declare Victoria Falls a tourism special economic zone, as it would have positive effects in addressing liquidity challenges in the country and revives the financial sector.

He said the declaration would facilitate entry of new players bringing competitiveness into the industry. Mukwasi said it was not only the tourism sector that would benefit from such a move, but also some players in the banking sector.

Addressing delegates at the just-ended Local Government Economic Development Forum 2015 in Bulawayo on Wednesday, ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke said Victoria Falls needed about 1 000 more rooms by 2020.

He said the country has become a transit route, as last year about 600 000 tourists passed through Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Kaseke urged the government to build a mall in Victoria Falls to make it a shopping destination for the Sadc region.



Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe

Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe

A partnership with Green-Tourism.com, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Environment Africa sees the  a pilot project launched to introduce Green Tourism to Zimbabwe.

15-20 hotels will be selected for the pilot from the Victoria Falls area including Hwange National Park and Livingstone, Zambia. Following awareness training in December 2015 the hotels will be assessed in February 2016 for their awards.

These businesses will become the Founding Members of Green Tourism in Africa, they are: Cresta Sprayview HotelPioneers CampThe Victoria Falls HotelVictoria Falls Safari LodgeVintage Canvas & Camping andWild Horizons The Elephant Camp.

The memorandum of understanding agreed by the partnership entails a commitment to:
  • Help tourism businesses become more sustainable
  • Develop minimum Green Tourism standards for integration into a national quality assurance scheme
  • Establish a Green Tourism awards scheme for Zimbabwe
  • Identify the leading practitioners and supporters and develop a framework for mutual cooperation
  • Mobilise resources through partnerships with interested stakeholders
  • Promote awareness in the tourism industry of green tourism ethics and practices and disseminate them
Zimbabwe tourism businesses will get: awards based on their  performance  and achievements.

They will also get advice and assistance from qualified, trained environmental auditors, who will, amongst other things, help businesses identify cost savings and marketing opportunities.

Subject to a successful pilot, the project will be expanded to help and empower other businesses throughout the area.

Source: Green Tourism unveils new initiative in Zimbabwe


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Monday, 14 December 2015

Vic Falls council provides stands to homeseekers

Victoria Falls Municipality, which has a housing backlog of about 10 000, is selling stands for as much as $50 000 to prospective home owners.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
The development is part of the “Beneficiary Pays Scheme” initiative.
Targeted beneficiaries are drawn from people on the waiting list and those with financial potential to build houses.
In a notice, town clerk, Christopher Dube said the value of stands ranged from $32 000 to $50 000. Sizes range between 2 000 square meters to 4 000 square meters at Aerodrome low density.
“Beneficiaries will be required to pay a third of the total cost of their stand or a minimum of $10 500, as initial deposit.
The remaining balance shall be payable over a period of 12 months,” he said. According to the notice, preference will be given to people with offer letters from the Beneficiary Pays Scheme initiative and “members of the public with demonstrated capacity to acquire and develop”.
In August, the local authority said it would provide close to 11 000 housing stands located between Mkhosana and Chinotimba suburbs along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls main road and along Kazungula-Victoria Falls road.
The place had over the years been reserved as an animal corridor, with no development allowed, but high demand for housing in the resort town necessitated the development.
The buffer zone is the same area that has been invaded by open space churches that have sprouted in the resort town with the local authority now seeking to ban them for defiling the environment.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

New Victoria Falls International Airport terminal opens

A brand new Victoria Falls International Airport terminal was opened to passengers on Wednesday, 2 December.
Although the state-of-the-art $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport will only be officially opened on Sunday, 13 December, David Chawota for the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) confirmed that the airport was operating recently, All Africa reports.

Chawota was speaking at the International Civil Aviation Day celebrations in Harare on Friday, 4 December.
The airport expansion was funded by the China Exim Bank, All Africa reports.
Its face-lift included upgrading the domestic terminal building, a new 4km runway, the new international terminal and the construction of a new fire station and new control tower. 
Chawota says the CAAZ's vision is for the Victoria Falls International Airport to become a gateway to Central and Southern Africa, boosting tourism. He hopes for the regional hub to become offer world-class aviation services by the end of 2020.

According to Airport Manager Ronnie Masawi, the new terminal can accommodate up to 1.5 million passengers a year, Tourism Update reports. Masawi said Air Zimbabwe, SAA, BA Comair, flyafrica and fastjet were currently operating to the airport, while Qatar airlines are also looking into launching flights to the airport.

Batoka Gorge HydroElectric Scheme - ESIA



Stakeholders who registered their interest in the Batoka Gorge HES project will have received the following announcement by email:

Background

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) is a statutory organization equally owned by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe. ZRA has been appointed by the Governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe as the implementing agency for the development of the Batoka Hydro Electric Scheme (BHES). The proposed HES will be situated approximately 47km downstream of the Victoria Falls. In Zimbabwe, it falls within the province of Matabeleland North and in the Hwange Rural District. In Zambia, it falls in the Southern Province, covering Kazungula, Livingstone, Zimba, Choma and Kalomo Districts.

Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA)

As part of the statutory requirements in Zambia and Zimbabwe, before development of the project commences, an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) must be completed and environmental authorization granted for the project by both the Zambian and Zimbabwean regulatory authorities. The ESIA will determine and assess the social and environmental impacts that may result from the proposed scheme and will identify ways to manage these impacts through the development of appropriate mitigation strategies.

The ESIA will be undertaken in alignment with the legislation of both countries, as well as international good practice guidelines such as the IFC’s Performance Standards. The ZRA has commissioned Environmental Resources Management (ERM) and its local partners (Kaizen Consulting International in Zambia and Black Crystal in Zimbabwe) as the Project Consultants to undertake the ESIA.

The following documents are currently available for public review:

·   Draft Scoping Report (located in libraries and website as detailed below);
·   Non-Technical Summary of the Scoping Report (available electronically on request);
·   Comments and Response Report (included in the Draft Scoping Report and available electronically on request); and
·   Grievance Mechanism (included in the Draft Scoping Report and available electronically on request)

Our website for the retrieval of the full Scoping Report is:  http://www.erm.com/batokahesesia and public places where hard copies of reports have been made available are:

Zimbabwe
-        Hwange Rural District Council Office
-        District Administrators Office in Hwange
-        Jambezi Clinic
-        Chisuma clinic 
-        Matebeleland North Provincial Administrators Office
-        Victoria Falls Municipal Offices
-        Environment Africa Office Victoria Falls
-        Black Crystal’s Office in Harare (see address below)

Zambia
-        Livingstone City Council
-        Livingstone District Commissioner’s Office
-        Kazungula District Council
-        Kazungula District Commissioner’s Office
-        Lusaka Kaizen Consulting Office
-        District Commissioners offices in Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        District Council Offices in Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        National Assembly Offices Zimba, Kalomo and Choma
-        Chiefs Palaces (Sipatunyana, Simwatachela & Chikanta)


We are keen to hear your comments and concerns about the Project The comment period runs from 4th December 2015 and 22nd January 2016, after which:

·   comments received will be forwarded to the regulatory authorities; the Environmental Management Agency of Zimbabwe (EMA) and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for their further attention;
·   the scope of work for the assessment phase of the Project will be modified; and
·   the Comments and Response Report (CRR) will be updated.  The current CRR (also enclosed) records all the comments we have received to date on the Project, and provides responses to these. 

Please send through any comments you may have by 22nd January 2016 via any of the contact means below.

Black Crystal Consulting (Zimbabwe)
queries@blackcrystal.co.zw
1 Fairbairn Drive, Mt Pleasant Harare,  Zimbabwe

Kaizen Consulting International (Zambia)
Godfrey_chileshe@yahoo.com, kaizen0601@gmail.com
+260(0) 977-758-591
Suite 3, Floor 21st, Findeco House, Cairo Road, P.O. Box 33526, Lusaka, Zambia

Environmental  Resources Management
Email: batokagorgehes@erm.com




New airport development to change the face of Victoria Falls

From WildZambezi November 2015 Newsletter


The new international airport at Victoria Falls is now open, and set to bring huge changes to the resort town, positioning the area as a tourism hub for the SADC region. Negotiations are already underway for several large international airlines to fly in directly.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon Walter Mzembi told an Investment Tourism Summit in South Africa recently that “The time has come to ‘modernise’ the Victoria Falls to attract a younger generation traveller to the World Heritage Site.”  

According to Mzembi the plans include an integrated tourism resort in Victoria Falls, and development of the world’s first ever ‘eco-Disneyland’. On the cards are an international convention centre, hotels, shopping malls, presidential villas and a medical tourism park centre. 

We want to establish a big international convention centre, which must seat 10 000 delegates,” said Mzembi. He stressed, however, that the development would not desecrate the World Heritage status of the Victoria Falls in any way and that the development would be outside the perimeter. The Victoria Falls will remain as virgin as when they were first discovered in the 1800s.”

The Zimbabwean government is also apparently looking into developing an international finance centre, allowing people to do their offshore banking in Victoria Falls, as opposed to Mauritius or Hong Kong, according to Mzembi.  He believes that these developments will also considerably increase the length of stay in the resort town from the current two to three nights to seven-night stays. 

Prime land near the Victoria Falls has been set aside and made available for the development of these projects.  But, the Zimbabwe government is still looking for private investors to make them a reality.  There is also some concern within the wider tourism industry as to whether or not these plans are appropriate for Victoria Falls.  Some believe it will detract from the Falls’ natural beauty, wildlife and scenery, which tourists come to Africa to experience.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Govt declares Vic Falls Tourism Special Economic Zone

ZIMBABWE’S prime resort town of Victoria Falls has been declared a Tourism Special Economic Zone (TEZ), a development expected to spur growth in tourist arrivals and create employment for locals, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Presenting the 2016 National Budget in Parliament on Thursday, Chinamasa said the conferment of Victoria Falls as a TEZ International Financial Centre should be followed up with the necessary investments for the economy to realise the tourism potential arising out of this.
“Already, the government has availed 274 hectares of land to a special purpose vehicle, Mosi-Oa-Tunya Development Company, incorporated in March 2012 through the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality to facilitate the implementation of this concept,” he said.
“This project should leverage on the various tourism products already in existence, which include, among others, leisure, business, conferences, financial, medical, sports, religious, cultural and education.”
Chinamasa indicated that tourism products required different facilities, hence the proposed TEZ should be designed in a manner that meets the different interests of these customer groups.
“The project should bring immense benefits through expected growth in tourism arrivals, increase in tourism-generated income and employment creation across the value chain,” Chinamasa said.
Accordingly, Chinamasa said, drawing from international best practices, the necessary incentives and dispensations in the areas of taxation, duty, liberal visa regimes and exchange control regulations would be availed.
Business lobby groups have been pushing the government to declare Bulawayo and Victoria Falls special economic zones to attract investment to fund the recovery of industry.
SEZs development, according to Bulawayo-based policy analyst Butler Tambo, may be used as an economic laboratory by providing opportunities to experiment on best practice economic policies that have not been tried in a particular country, development of backward and forward linkage industries through SEZs linkages as well as linkages with local firms for raw materials, intermediate inputs and capital equipment.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Vic Falls set to go from a charming town to major hub

What happens when a new tourism hub is born? A leading and interesting question, no doubt. That new tourism hub is Victoria Falls and the catalyst for that birth is, of course, the Victoria Falls International Airport, scheduled to become operational in early December 2015.
While Victoria Falls, not only the world’s largest waterfall, but also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a Unesco World Heritage Site, has long been on many a traveller’s bucket list, it is about to become a whole lot easier to get to. Direct flights to Victoria Falls from many corners of the globe will be a total game changer. Victoria Falls will grow from a charming little tourism town into a major tourism hub for the region, while maintaining its charm and attraction.
Why the hub status one may ask? The answer is very clear – look at a map of southern Africa and put a compass on Victoria Falls, and you will see clearly that it is right at the centre of the finest tourism and wildlife destinations and countries on the planet. Draw concentric circles from Victoria Falls out to 500km, 600km or 700km and note what amazing destinations and experiences, cultures and people, wildlife, flora and fauna abound! Victoria Falls is set to become a gateway from which to explore the entire region.
With five or six international air carriers looking closely and in talks with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and Government about routes to Victoria Falls, one can but imagine the growth potential for tourism to the region in the coming few years. Throw in the likes of the expansion of the KAZA Univisa to include neighbouring countries, coupled with the easing of visa regulations in South Africa and Zimbabwe and it is easy to see how and why Victoria Falls will attain this hub status in coming years.
Some may believe Victoria Falls is better left as it is while others will embrace the counter argument that “growth is necessary and good”.  But what matters is that growth is inevitable, so both the public and the private sector must be responsible, accountable and caring in managing such expansion. As we know, tourism is a key pillar of many African economies, a major employer and contributor to communities and the fiscus, and so responsible growth should be embraced.
Let’s all ‘watch this space’ and play a part in contributing to our wonderful industry, which showcases our continent extremely positively.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Zimbabwe journalists detained over elephant poaching story

HARARE: Zimbabwean police have arrested journalists at a state newspaper over a story implicating police officers and parks authorities in the poisoning of at least 60 elephants, a media complaints watchdog said Tuesday.

“We confirm the arrest of three journalists and we condemn the arrest,” Loughty Dube, director of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) told AFP. “It’s barbaric in a democracy. It infringes on the constitution which provides for freedom of expression.”

Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, the paper’s investigations editor Brian Chitemba and reporter Tinashe Farawo were detained at Harare Central Police Station, Dube said. Police said they would issue a statement at a media briefing. 

According to The Herald, police denied such an investigation was under way. The Herald said the trio were accused of publishing falsehoods following a story in this week’s edition of The Sunday Mail.

The report said a police assistant commissioner, rangers in the parks and wildlife department, an Asian businessman and several junior officers were being investigated for the poisoning of at least 60 elephants in separate incidents.

Dube said the story did not warrant the journalists’ arrest. “The police should simply have asked for a retraction, issued a statement with the correct position or registered their complaint through VMCZ,” Dube said.

Scores of elephants have died from poisoning by suspected poachers near Zimbabwe’s main game reserve and near the border with Botswana in recent months. Some of the carcasses were found without tusks.

Some officers from the parks department have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Source: Zimbabwe journalists detained over elephant poaching story (3/11/15)

Monday, 2 November 2015

Top cop fingered in elephant poaching saga

A syndicate comprising police officers, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers and Asians is behind the latest spate of elephant killings in Hwange National Park, it has emerged.

One of the suspects under active investigation is an assistant commissioner of police. Several others have been arrested in connection with the killing of 22 elephants, including a junior cop and a parks camp manager.
The syndicate has allegedly killed around 55 elephants for their ivory tusks since early 2015. Information gathered over the last two weeks indicates the Asians are the kingpins behind the indiscriminate poaching, whose funds sometimes end up oiling other international criminal networks.
Globally, poaching and wildlife trafficking are highly lucrative businesses estimated to earn between US$23 billion and US$47 billion yearly. They are jointly ranked fourth on the list of large-scale illegal trade worldwide after drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, confirmed arrests were made last week and said investigations were continuing.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority acting spokesperson, Mr Tawanda Gotosa, added: “I can confirm that some arrests were made and one of our camp managers was suspended.”
Mr Gotosa would not discuss the matter further saying doing so would jeopardise investigations. Senior government officials close to the probe said that names of those under investigation could not be published as yet.
Sources say that the masterminds engaged game rangers and rogue cops, arranging details of hits, including killing methods and transportation.
In the most recent case 22 elephants were poisoned, despite the security team being on patrol. It turned out that part of the patrol team was about 500m away and a ranger is said to have heard the noise made as the tusks were cut off.
Authorities said the rangers and police officers were working with a powerful syndicate including Asian businessmen responsible for sourcing cyanide from gold mines. Cyanide is a relatively expensive chemical and ordinary villagers around the Hwange National Park may not be able to buy it.
About 10kg of cyanide was reportedly taken from a gold mine in Esigodini, some 40km from Bulawayo. An official said: “The problem is that some of the rangers who have been assisting security forces investigate the matter are also involved in the poaching. This close-knit syndicate must be busted to bring sanity to wildlife conservation.”
Investigators also discovered that during a recent inventory of elephant tusks at Hwange National Park stores, a tusk was missing. However, a few days later, it had been replaced by a smaller one. Only parks officials have access to the stores.
Source: Top cop fingered in elephant poaching saga (2/11/15)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Steam Trains back in fashion

Steam locomotives are back in Zimbabwe (pictured) after being upset for so many decades, desiels and electric trains are being used and a few steam trains running are used in tourist resorts like Victoria Falls and they are owned by private companies like the Victoria Falls Steam train which does trips to the amazing victoriafalls and across the border to Zambia.


Steam locomotives have proved very popular with tourists and this has prompted the National Railways of Zimbabwe to refurbish seven additional locomotives to bring the fleet of steam locomotives to 10, the parastatal’s public relations manager, Mr Fanuel Masikati, said yesterday.

In an interview, Mr Masikati said the locomotives were being used for rail leisure safari, targeting mainly tourists. Mr Masikati said the recent steam locomotive trial run from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls proved very popular with tourists.

“Our target was to have 200 passengers for the maiden trip from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls but we ended up with more than 300 as the trip was over subscribed. In response, we decided to refurbish additional locomotives to meet demand,” he said.

Mr Masikati said the rail leisure steam safari trains will be running on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Bulawayo-Plumtree and Bulawayo-Mbalabala routes. “These trains will run on special days such as the Mother’s, Father’s, Valentine’s and family fun days,” he said.

Mr Masikati said introduction of the rail leisure steam safari trains was expected to generate additional business for the parastatal which in turn was going to increase revenue inflow. “Tourists and the general members of the public enjoy steam locomotives as evidenced by the overwhelming response we got for the maiden Bulawayo-Victoria Falls trip. We are receiving a lot of inquiries locally and internationally from individuals and families that want to take a ride on the trains.

Mr Masikati said the launch of the facility was yet to be confirmed. “Right now we are going to exhibit the rail leisure safari train at the Sanganai-Hlanganani travel expo which this year is going to be held in Harare. It is only after this that we will decide on the launch date,” he said.

Source: Steam Trains Back in Zimbabwe (Oct 2015)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Poachers kill at least 22 more elephants, bringing total number poisoned this month to 62

At least 22 more elephants - including babies - have been poisoned to death by poachers in Zimbabwe, it was today revealed, as conservationists struggle to stem a spate of deadly attacks.

The animals' carcasses were discovered in Hwange National Park's Sinamatella area alongside 35 tusks, said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the parks and wildlife management authority.

The poachers, who apparently killed the elephants with cyanide, escaped with three ivory tusks.

The grim finding - made by park rangers yesterday morning - brings the number of elephants poisoned by poachers in the southern Africa country in October alone to a staggering 62. 

'We recovered 22 elephant carcasses in the Sinamatela area and so far we have also recovered 35 tusks,' Washaya-Moyo told AFP. 'Initial investigations indicate that there was cyanide poisoning.' 

She added: 'We continue to lobby for deterrent penalties for people found with poisonous substances such as cyanide. We can't continue to lose wildlife at such a rate.'



Rangers are now investigating how many of the elephants - who resided at the same park as Cecil the lion, who was shot dead by dentist Walter Palmer in July -  had fully developed tusks.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Washaya-Moyo said: 'We are now trying to check how many elephants had fully developed tusks because babies are among those killed.

'The rate at which we are losing animals to cyanide is alarming. Many other species are also dying from the cyanide used by poachers to target elephants. We are appealing to people in communities close to national parks to cooperate with authorities.'

The latest attacks come less than two weeks after 26 elephants died from poisoning in two separate incidents outside the park, in the resort town of Kariba and near Zimbabwe's border with Botswana.

The three killed in Kariba died from cyanide put in oranges. And last month, at least 14 elephants died of poisoning in various attacks.

In the wake of the poisonings, officials recovered 2.2lbs of poison from the elephants' habitats.

Poaching is common in Zimbabwe's game parks. Elephants and rhino are the main targets for poachers because of their tusks and horns, which are smuggled to eastern Asian countries.

Last year, more than 300 elephants died in suspected cyanide poisonings.
Washaya-Moyo said the parks agency is hoping that trained dogs from South Africa and the deployment of drones will help tighten monitoring of the vast, wildlife-rich park.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri blamed a ban on elephant sport hunting by the U.S. for increased poaching in the country.

'All this poaching is because of American policies, they are banning sport hunting.
'An elephant would cost $120,000 in sport hunting but a tourist pays only $10 to view the same elephant,' she said, adding money from sport hunting is crucial in conservation efforts. 

Yesterday, the national parks announced that, over the weekend, officials at Harare International Airport seized 380 pounds of ivory, worth $43,250, that was about to be smuggled to Singapore.

Three Zimbabweans and a Malian national were arrested over the smuggling bid, officials said.

Source: Poachers kill at least 22 more elephants, bringing total number poisoned this month to 62 (27/10/15)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Victoria Falls will not dry up

THE African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) has dismissed recent media reports suggesting Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was drying up.
BY CHARLES LAITON
ATTA chairman Ross Kennedy, in a statement yesterday, said “perhaps the October madness may have been getting the better of some of those suggesting otherwise”.
“Victoria Falls will never become ‘Victoria Walls’, as locals self-deprecatingly joke,” he said.
Kennedy said according to local river experts, the facts were that there would always be water in Victoria Falls, particularly the Zimbabwean side between the David Livingstone statue and Livingstone Island.
“Traditionally, Victoria Falls is at its driest at this time of the year, and often before the rainy season begins, the Zambian side does come close to drying up, with just a small amount of water flowing over in some places,” he said.
“This is simply because the Falls are slightly lower on the Zimbabwean side.”
Kennedy said due to exceptionally low rainfall in the catchment area during the last rainy season, the water level was at its lowest since 1996.
“The water levels will continue to drop as usual until the rains start in the catchment area north of Victoria Falls. So rest assured, Victoria Falls deservedly remains one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and nothing can change that,” he said.
Kennedy’s strong rebuttal comes amid reports that half of Victoria Falls had dried up and the falls were beginning to get parched.
Source: Victoria Falls will not dry up (15/10/15)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Zimbabwe game park staff arrested over ivory theft

HARARE (AFP) - Three staff members at Zimbabwe s biggest game park have been arrested on suspicion of stealing ivory, officials said Wednesday, highlighting fears that wildlife smuggling is sometimes an "insider job".
Ecologist Edwin Makuwe and game rangers Masimba Nyoni and John Pedzi were arrested on allegations of stealing ivory that was recovered at Harare international airport.
"The offence was discovered during X-ray scanning," Caroline Washaya, spokeswoman for the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told AFP.
"The Authority wants to ensure that poaching and illegal smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products is under control."
The three were due to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police, security guards and rangers have often been reported to be involved in poaching in Africa.
Last year, an entire police unit in Mozambique was restructured due to its involvement in poaching, according to the WWF.
Also last year, a former field ranger and two South African police officers were arrested in Kruger National Park over the poaching of a black rhinoceros.
The latest arrests in Zimbabwe follow the deaths from cyanide poisoning of 14 elephants in separate incidents in Hwange park and the resort town of Kariba last month.
Five men have been arrested on charges of poisoning 11 of the elephants in Hwange.

Victoria Falls hotels fully booked ahead of Zanu-PF Conference

Hotels and lodges in Victoria Falls are fully booked for December ahead of the 15th Zanu-PF Annual National People's Conference set for the resort town that month. More than 6,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference and operators are gearing up for brisk business.

In an interview, Hotels Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chairperson Trythings Mutyandasvika, said the tourism sector was excited with the coming of the ruling party summit to the resort town as it will bring business for them.


He said the conferences are a boon as they help hotels and lodges to get exposure.
"When you host such big conferences, it's very beneficial as it markets us as a country and corrects some misconceptions people have about us as a country and a tourist destination.


"We tend to receive a lot of bookings afterwards because tourists will be aware of the country's capacity to offer the best service and we're exposing ourselves as a safe destination to the whole world," Mutyandasvika said.


Employers Association of Tourism Operators president Clement Mukwasi said tour operators are geared for brisk business during the conference period.


"This is a great opportunity for us as a town. We know that everyone who will be attending the conference would want to visit the Victoria Falls and that would greatly increase numbers in our business," Mukwasi said.


"We're always known for being a peaceful country and Victoria Falls on its own exhibits this quality which is why we host such big and numerous conferences. This is a great opportunity for us as a country as we'll attract more and more tourists," he said.


He said some provincial delegates to the conference had failed to secure accommodation due to late booking and would be forced to seek accommodation in residential areas. 


"For that period, all our hotels and lodges are fully booked and that's a good thing for us as a town and the country. This is one of the best things that has happened to us as a town because the government is giving us a vote of confidence to host numerous conferences," he said.

Victoria Falls Mayor Councillor Sifiso Mpofu said the Zanu-PF conference puts the tourist destination on the world map which he said was good for boosting tourism in the country.

Source: Victoria Falls hotels fully booked ahead of Zanu-PF Conference (06/10/15)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Victoria Falls' sex tourism increasingly becoming popular

WHEN some foreign tourists think of the Victoria Falls, the first thing that comes to their minds is the scenic spectacle of the majestic sheet of falling water, the largest in the world. But not every foreign visitor sets out to see the waterfall. A growing number of European women and Americans make a stopover with one singular mission in their minds - to engage in sex with Zimbabwe's black men.

In other words, female sex tourism is gradually taking root in Zimbabwe with Victoria Falls being the capital city. 

They fall into three categories; Traditional sex tourists, who have similar characteristics and motives as male sex tourists, Situational sex tourists, who do not intentionally put themselves in a sex tourist position, but find themselves involved in a sexual encounter with local men. Situational sex tourists may fall into the category of either being businesswomen, students, and women in overseas conferences or other women who have different agendas that are non-sexual. Romance tourists, who plan to fulfil their travel with romantic experiences that they cannot experience in their native country.

Most of the female sex tourists who visit Zimbabwe fall into the last category. According to sex tourism researchers, the majority of these women are white, middle-aged or older and often have a history of unhappy relationships with men at home.

Others are in healthy relationships and are attracted by the thrill of indulging in sex with African men.

Female sex tourism is not a new phenomenon in Africa, but many Zimbabweans are unaware that Victoria Falls is increasingly becoming one of the popular destinations for foreign white women who want to engage in sex with African men.

"Some of the white women come here just to engage in sex with black men that they meet in hotels, restaurants and clubs. And most of them are successful as only a few men can resist sex. In any case, most black men have dreams of sleeping with a white woman," said a Victoria Falls hotel employee.

In an interview, a tour guide confirmed that Victoria Falls receives its fair share of female sex tourists. He revealed that most of them are intrigued by stereotypical beliefs that black African males are blessed with unparalleled sexual prowess and that they are gifted below the belt.

He said: "I once asked one white woman why she doesn't target black men in her country and she told me that she wants a pure black man who is in touch with his African roots and she doesn't want her friends and relatives to know that she is into black men because they wouldn't approve."

The tour guide added that some female sex tourists do it because it makes them feel dominant. They achieve this dominance by using money.

A taxi driver disclosed that female sex tourism in Victoria Falls is done covertly because of the stigma that would follow if it becomes known that the men sell sex to female sex tourists.
"Most of the women I have seen with our brothers are ugly and fat and most of the men are younger than the women so it's obvious that the men are attracted by the money that these women have. The other noticeable thing is that most of the men I have seen will be spotting dreadlocks."

This perception is supported by a University of Illinois report which stated that some women who engaged in risky sexual behaviour while travelling said that "they felt freed from sexual double standards at home", and hoped to "feel like a man" by having a one-night stand - no strings attached sex.

A female tourist from England, who identified herself as Leeshel, confirmed that some female tourists come to Africa and in this case, Zimbabwe, just for sex.

"I am not into that but I have friends and relatives who want to engage in sex in every country they visit. I don't see anything wrong with that because they are adults, they can act anyway they want. I don't judge but I don't do that because I am afraid of Aids," Leeshel said.

Leeshel let slip that her friends, who are into sex tourism, told her that it is easier to get men in Zimbabwe because most of the men are literate.

"In other African countries the language barrier poses a problem but here everyone speaks passable English. That makes flirting easy and the women avoid that awkward moment when they have to use gestures to show the men that they want to spend time with them," she said.

Leeshel added that female sex tourists are aware that they have to shower the African men with money and gifts in order to get the happy ending they desire.

"Most of my friends want to feel special and they see Africa as a romantic get-away but the African men see the relationship as a commercial exchange. They (female sex tourists) are aware that they are being used for money but it's a quid pro quo arrangement because they get the attention and sex they crave in return.

"But it's not like they come here and say to the men 'hey, come here I have money, let's engage in sex.' They are savvier than that. They are aware that the exchange of money makes it prostitution and it (prostitution) is illegal here. So they have to be careful and selective," she said.

Kenyan academic and author of Sex Tourism in Africa, Kenya's Booming Industry, Dr Wanjohi Kibicho cements Leeshel's suggestion that most female sex tourists use sex as a way to feel special.

"These women are lonely. Among all the women I talked to, there is an impression of something lacking at home, like their needs are not being met - not only sexual, but also psychological and emotional support," said Dr Kibicho.

According to Wikipedia, female sex tourists are classified as women from a developed country, who travel to less developed countries in search of romance or sexual outlets.
According to people in the tourism sector, the sex seeking white women are well and truly on the prowl for African men, even though they are a little less obvious about it. The women can be seen flirting with Zimbabwean men (although most times it's covertly), often ending in the formation of temporary relationships.

Source: Victoria Falls' sex tourism increasingly becoming popular (04/10/15)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

11 elephants killed in new Hwange cyanide attack

Up to 11 elephants and several vultures have died in another case of cyanide poisoning in Zimbabwe.

State media in Bulawayo reported this weekend the carcasses of 10 poisoned elephants had been found in Hwange National Park. However, sources on Monday said the figure may actually be 11. 
"There were four found outside Hwange Main Camp (but still inside the park)... It might be five," a conservationist from the Hwange area said in a telephone interview. He said another six carcasses were found beyond the park's boundary.
"They had just been poisoned. The way [poachers] do cyanide, they mix it in a bucket and tip it on the ground and the elephants eat it. They will die right there," he added. 
He said because the carcasses were discovered just two days apart last week, "it would suggest the same person" was responsible.
The figure of 11 dead elephants was corroborated by another source on Monday, but the death toll was expected to rise.
This poisoning incident was separate from the one reported in Kariba last month, where three elephants died after eating cyanide-laced oranges.
The grim news triggers memories of the poisoning of dozens of elephants for their tusks in Hwange in 2013. In that incident, cyanide was placed on salt-licks in the dry park, with some reports indicating up to 300 elephants died.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has not yet confirmed the latest poisoning in Hwange, which was where Cecil the lion lived before being killed by a US dentist on an illegal hunt in July. Hwange is about 600km from the Zimbabwean capital ,Harare.
The state-owned Sunday News said "a number of" vultures had died after feeding off the elephants' carcasses.
It was not immediately clear if the tusks of the Hwange elephants had been removed.
Photos released on Monday by the Kariba Animal Welfare Trust of the elephants poisoned with cyanide in the resort town last month show the animals' tusks were intact.