Ultimate Africa travel and wildlife news archive
Gorillas in the Midst of War, August 1 1999
It sounded at first like the growl of a cornered dog, but there was no mistaking the enormous form of a black highland gorilla as it lurched towards the park ranger. John Kahekwa dropped to the ground, looked the gorilla in the eyes and held out his hands, palms toward the ground. "Stay calm," he commanded. Obligingly, the gorilla stopped in its tracks, turned and shuffled away into the dense undergrowth. "These days the gorillas are very scared of humans," said Kahekwa, a guide in the rainforests of Kahuzi Biega National Park in eastern Congo.
Kahuzi Biega was the birthplace of gorilla tourism and the place where Dian Fossey, the anthropologist and subject of the film Gorillas in the Mist, first encountered the highland gorilla. But in the 1990s the park's once healthy population of gorillas has been severely reduced by poachers and Rwandan rebels who use it as a hideout. Twenty gorillas have been killed since April, and the days when tourists rubbed shoulders and shook hands with these magnificent creatures are now long gone.
Mankoto Oyisenzoo, a conservationist and director of the park, estimates that in the last three years between 60 and 120 of the park's 260 gorillas have been slaughtered. In the same period, 300 elephants have been poached and only 80 remain. Kahekwa, who has worked in the park for 15 years, said he has not seen an elephant for more than three months. Gorillas are similarly hard to find, he said, adding that before the civil war in former Zaire there were so many gorillas "you could swim among them".
Highland and mountain gorillas are only found in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo and their numbers are now so small as to make them one of the world's most endangered species. The poachers use members of a tribe of Pygmies who lived in the park before they were resettled in 1937 to track the animals. Unaccustomed to agricultural subsistence, the Pygmies continued to hunt and forage in the forest. Bulabi Lubanga and his son Mango are not big-time poachers. Barefoot and dressed in rags, they sit on the steps of the park station in the shadow of a pile of elephant skulls and a collection of poacher's tools found in the park. Arrested three days ago, Lubanga said that rebels living in the park raided his village for food and that he was poaching to provide food for his family.
The stricken economy of eastern Congo, laid waste by the war, places a premium on gorillas, as their meat offers one of the few sources of food. They are also a target for poachers because local people believe that by crushing the bones and working the powder into a tattoo they can assume the gorilla's strength. On the international market, their heads are revered as trophies and their infants are sold to zoos.
In April 1994 Rwandan Hutus organized in paramilitary bands known as "interahamwe" turned on Rwandan Tutsis in a premeditated orgy of mass slaughter which lasted 100 days and killed up to a million people. Driven out of Rwanda, the Hutus fled into neighboring Congo and took refuge in the forests of the park.
It was during a trip to see Uganda's mountain gorillas in Bwindi national park in March that eight tourists were abducted and killed by the "interahamwe". Eastern Congo is so unstable that the park authorities have access to only 10% of the park. The 20 gorillas killed since April all lived in these areas. "We have little idea what's happening in other parts of the park but this is where the "interahamwe" and the Mayi Mayi (Congolese militias) are based so we suspect that the losses there could be even greater," Oyisenzoo said. Basengezi Katintima, the governor of south Kivu province, where the park is situated, said "In Rwanda they are talking about a human genocide, but here we are talking about an animal genocide." The survival of the gorillas, he said, depends on tourism and the revenue it generates. In 1990 3,400 tourists visited the park, generating an income of some US $400,000. In 1995 there were only 300 visitors.
Due to client safety concerns Ultimate Africa does not arranged gorilla safaris.
Kenya Seizes Elephant Ivory, August 1 1999
Kenyan authorities have announced the largest seizure of ivory in the country since 1989. Officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service say that over 350kg of ivory were found in the town of Maralal 300km north of the capital Nairobi.
Forty-five pieces of ivory were found hidden at three different sites around Maralal. At one place maize had been planted to try to hide the tusks, which were all fresh. The ivory came from at least 23 elephants, of which about 10 were large elephant bulls. Some of the tusks had bullet holes through them.
The discovery of the haul comes amid fears that poaching in Kenya is once again on the increase. This was the largest seizure of ivory in a decade and there have been 35 confirmed incidents of poaching this year alone. Officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service believe that the ivory was destined for neighboring Somalia or Ethiopia. Ivory can currently fetch $15 to $35 a kilo.
Two Kenyans were arrested. The two could face long jail sentences for illegal possession of ivory, but wildlife officials say that the ringleaders are still at large.
The incident came only months after the first legal sale of ivory in Africa since 1989, following a decision in February by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to allow an experimental trade in ivory from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Kenya and eight other elephant-range states strongly objected to the reopening of the trade, which they deemed premature. It involved a one-off sale to Japan on an experimental basis.
Kenya warned that the sale sent out the wrong message and might trigger increased poaching.
Kenyas elephant population plummeted to about 19,000 from an estimated 600,000 in the early 1970s. The population has now increased to an estimated 28,000. A CITES meeting is scheduled for Nairobi early next year and will review the effect of restricted ivory trade.
Rhino's Give Birth in Kenya, August 1 1999
One of the white rhinos donated to Kenya by South Africa has given birth at the Lake Nakuru National Park. A black rhino also gave birth last month, increasing the rhino herd at the park to 75.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) established a rhino sanctuary at the Lake Nakuru National Park in 1987. The first batch of rhinos to arrive at the park were donated by Solio Ranch which is located in Laikipia District. The rhino breeding herd at the park received a major boost in 1994 when South Africa donated 20 white rhinos from the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park. Ten of the animals were released at the Lake Nakuru National Park while the rest were taken to the Ol Chorro Oirua Conservation Area.
Kenya launched the National Save the Rhino Project in 1984 after poachers slashed the rhino population in the country from 20, 000 in 1970 to only 400 in 1983. President Moi subsequently accorded the rhino special protective status and their number has increased steadily both in the protected parks and in private sanctuaries such as Solio. Mr. Kilonzo said that there were now 31 white and 44 black rhinos at the Lake Nakuru sanctuary.
South African Airways Rated 11th Best in World, August 1 1999
Based on its 1998 performance South African Airways has been rated the 11th best airline in the world in a survey by the UK magazine 'Holiday Watch' by some 20,000 leisure travelers. In other air notes QANTAS will reintroduce a First Class service on its South Africa route from October 31, 1999.
Skydiving in Botswana, August 1 1999
Crocodile Camp Safaris in Botswana has launched "Jump Botswana", a unique sky-diving safari where clients get to jump into the national parks of Botswana. "We are the first in Botswana to be granted the licenses to do these special trips," said marketing manager, Steven Nyland. "We've already had a great deal of interest from the US, German and French markets." The safaris are limited to experienced sky-divers in possession of a 'D' license and their own equipment. Groups (minimum 2, maximum 8) are accompanied by a jump-master and one or two jumps a day are undertaken.
Ride a Harley through Botswana and Zimbabwe, August 1 1999
A new trip being planned by Harleyday Tours, incorporating both Botswana and Zimbabwe, will offer tourists the opportunity to experience the thrills of Southern Africa's unspoiled wilderness from the open seat of a powerful Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The seven-day excursion, ex-Johannesburg, travels north to Francistown and Kasane in Botswana, before moving on to an overnight stop at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. From Victoria Falls, the tour continues through to Binga and Kariba, before moving on to Harare and Mutare. Day five includes visits to Masvingo and Bulawayo where guests overnight prior to the return trip via Hwange. "The tours are very flexible, despite the itinerary we have laid out, and the riders can pretty much decide what they want to do and where they want to go," says Andre Moolman.
With branches operating in South Africas Western Cape, Namibia and Mpumalanga, Cape Harleyday offers a range of scheduled and tailor-made trips on Harley-Davidson models such as Fat Boy, Electra-Glide, Soft Tail and Low Riders.
South Africa Poised to Lead Africa Tourist Boom, August 1 1999
The number of tourists visiting Africa is set to quadruple in the next 20 years and South Africa is perfectly placed to exploit key trends, an international tourism expert believes. Southern Africa is expected to lead the continent in speed of tourism growth, predicted to be about 7.5% a year, and up to 36 million of the 77 million expected arrivals in Africa.
These were among the forecasts in the World Tourism Organization's Tourism 2020 Vision study, unveiled by Robert Cleverdon at a presentation hosted by the Western Cape Tourism Board at Kirstenbosch this week. The study projects that total tourism arrivals worldwide could triple between now and 2020. Africa's average growth is expected to be 5,5%, compared with a world average of 4%. Arrivals in Africa, though, will only make up 5% of all global arrivals and two-thirds of visitors to tourist destinations on the continent will be resident in Africa. Of the remaining third, two- thirds will be from Europe.
A key prediction in tourism trends is the switch from "service" to "experience" tourism. "A fundamental imperative is to say, 'What makes us different?' " said Mr. Cleverdon. Countries would have to start offering "unique experiences that personally engage the consumer". South Africa had great potential to develop these types of tourism products. It was also critical for countries to develop new adventure tourism initiatives and, in this regard, South Africa had "no boundaries".
Future world's travelers are likely to be far more environmentally aware, and will study their destinations a lot more carefully before visiting. This will put pressure on governments to ensure their new tourism developments are environmentally sustainable. In this regard, Mr. Cleverdon heaped praise on South Africa's "conservation housekeeping" record. South Africa had a sound environmental foundation and could now afford to focus more on development.
Despite the bold predictions, international tourism would still be "in its infancy" in 2020, with just one in 14 people around the world expected to travel. China would have taken the lead as the world's most visited country, followed by the United States, France and Spain. South Africa is expected to rank 18th.
According to predictions, Germans are likely to remain the top travelers, followed by Japanese, Americans, Chinese and Britons.
New Holiday Inn Hotel for Mozambique, August 1 1999
The foundation stone was laid in Maputo, Mozambique recently for the building of a Holiday Inn hotel which is scheduled to be complete late during the year 2000. The hotel is to be built on the Maputo seafront, on a site formerly occupied by a derelict restaurant, and 70% of its rooms will face the sea.
Mozambique Wants Elephants, August 1 1999
The South African and Mozambican governments have commissioned a joint feasibility study for restocking the Gorongoza National Park and other Mozambican game reserves with elephants. The restocking is necessary following a sharp decline in Mozambique's elephant population during the country's devastating civil war, which ended in 1992. In the early 1970's, Mozambique had an elephant population estimated at 63,000 but the number dropped to only 15,000 following the political conflict.
National director of forestry and wildlife, Arlito Cuco, said on Monday that southern African countries, particularly South Africa and Botswana, had already expressed interest in helping with the elephant restocking project. "Negotiations are under way to determine how, when and how many elephants may be imported," said Cuco.
The Botswanan authorities may also conduct their own technical, financial and ecological studies. Cuco said there was no contradiction in restocking elephant populations in Mozambique after the country recently unbanned "controlled" elephant hunting. He said elephants would only be hunted in stipulated areas where elephant numbers were of a certain size.
Peasant farmers in the southern provinces of Maputo and Inhambane and the central province of Manica have welcomed the unbanning of hunting, saying elephants destroy their crops and houses. It has been suggested, however, that such "problem" elephants not be hunted, but be transferred to areas in need of restocking. Cuco refused to comment on the suggestions.
Possible Ebola Cure Found, August 8 1999
A plant has been found which, in laboratory tests, halts the deadly Ebola virus in its tracks. Scientists used a compound from the Garcinia kola plant which is commonly eaten in West Africa. The discovery was announced at the 16th International Botanical Congress in St Louis in the US.
Research started 10 years ago when researchers were led to the plant by traditional native healers who have used the plant for the treatment of infectious diseases for centuries. "This is a very exciting discovery," said Dr Iwu, who himself comes originally from a family of traditional healers. The active compound is what is known as a dimeric flavonoid. Flavonoids are non-toxic and can be found in orange and lemon rinds as well as the colorings of other plants. "The discovery of these important properties in a simple compound was very surprising," said Dr Iwu. "The structure of this compound lends itself to modification, so it provides a template for future work. Even if this particular drug does not succeed through the whole drug approval process, we can use it to construct a new drug for this deadly disease."
The tests are in the early stages still, but the researchers hope that if they continue to prove successful the US Food and Drug Administration will put the compound on a fast track - making a drug available to humans within a matter of years.
If the anti-Ebola compound proves successful in animal and human trials, it will be the first medicine to successfully treat the virus that causes Ebola haemorrhagic fever. The Ebola virus was first documented in 1976 after an outbreak in Zaire - now the Democratic Republic of the Congo - where 88% of the 318 human cases died. More recently, a 1995 outbreak in the same country had a death rate of 81% of the 315 infected. There are four types of the virus - Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan and Ebola-Ivory Coast all affect humans, while Ebola-Reston has so far only affected monkeys and chimpanzees.
Aging Lioness Leads Attack on British Tourist, August 8 1999
A British student was dragged out of his tent by a pride of lions and torn to pieces in a nature reserve in northern Zimbabwe, police and parks officials said Monday. David Pleydell-Bouverie was with a tour in the Matusadona National Park, a remote and wild stretch of Africa that is renowned for the high density of its lion population, when the group of 10-12 lions attacked early last Sunday, said police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.
Pleydell-Bouverie, son of Richard Pleydell-Bouverie, Britain's High Sheriff of Hertfordshire and nephew of the Earl of Radnor, was filling in before college as an unpaid helper with a Zimbabwean tour firm, the British High Commission in Harare said. Parks officials said the student and professional safari guide Bradley Fouche were in separate tents away from their tour party when Fouche was awoken by screaming and saw Pleydell-Bouverie being dragged from his tent. The guide set fire to his shirt to try to scare away the lions and by the time he reached his rifle the student had been carried into thick bush nearby. The student's head and other body parts were found in the bush.
Regulations in the park, where lions are common, require visitors to be accompanied at all times by a qualified guide, with a firearm at hand for any emergency.
Ivan Carter Safaris, the company which organized the tour on which David Pleydell-Bouverie died, said in a statement that it appeared "a very old lioness led the attack." Dawie Van Der Walt, curator of large mammals at Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa, said this could have been a crucial factor in the unusual attack. "If she (the lioness) was getting on in age, she would have been looking for the easiest game and no game is as easy as humans," Van Der Walt said.
British embassy officials confirmed that two lions were killed in connection with the incident at Matusadona.
The incident was not unprecedented. There have been a number of recorded cases, notably from Mozambique, of lions dragging humans from their tents to kill and eat them. Local Africans throughout the continent are killed each year in wildlife attacks however most incidents do not reach the international press.
Safari Company Not to Blame Says Lion Victims Mother, August 8 1999
The mother of David Pleydell-Bouverie, the 19-year-old Briton killed by a group of marauding lions in Matusadona National Park last week, has exonerated the safari company, Ivan Carter Safaris, and the safari guide, Bradley Fouche, of any blame for her sons death. "This dreadful freak accident was an act of fate that could not have been prevented, and I feel neither Brad nor the company are to blame in any way," said the victims mother, Victoria Pleydell-Bouverie in a statement. She said she regarded the standard of guiding in Zimbabwe as "the highest in Africa, and Ivans standards are higher still. I know Brad adhered to those incredibly high standards of safety, caution, and knowledge."
Victoria Pleydell-Bouverie, who visited Zimbabwe herself in May and went on safari with Ivan Carter Safaris, said she intends to visit the country again once she has recovered from the trauma of her sons death, and when she does, "it will only be on a trip organized, run and guided by Ivan Carter Safaris." She said she had "total confidence in their skills, knowledge and concern for safety." Pleydell-Bouverie said that her son "knew as I did that Africa was not without risk but I was always entirely confident that he was in the best possible hands and feared less for his safety here than almost anywhere else."
David Pleydell-Bouverie, who was the nephew of the Earl of Radnor and son of the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, was in Zimbabwe while on an extended trip around Southern Africa. He had previously been involved in voluntary work at Tashinga Rhino program, and had moved to Matusadona to join a photographic safari just a week before the lion attack. The teenager was on a safari with safari guide Bradley Fouche and a family of four other Britons at the time of the tragedy, which occurred during the early hours of Sunday morning last week.
Following the incident, the family wrote to Fouche on 2 August expressing their gratitude to the guide for having ensured their safety. "We still cannot thank you enough that our family are still all here today. We owe this to our good fortune that you were our guide," reads the letter. In their letter the family commend the safari guide for his "tremendous personal bravery" and "clear thinking". The letter continues: "To have got all of us out of the camp so safely was a brilliant achievement and something you should be proud of for life."
In a sworn affidavit, the safari operator and owner of the safari company, Ivan Murray Carter, said: " ... I have never experienced an event like this or even close to this, and while our greatest emphasis is on the safety aspect of the safari, we believe this to be a totally freak encounter." In his testimony, Carter said that Fouche had been guiding walking safaris for various operators in the area for six years. His position, prior to joining Carters safari company, was head guide for Chikwenya Safari Camp. In his affidavit, the operator said: "It must be understood that in order to qualify as a walking guide in Zimbabwe, one must pass a set of exams, renowned as the most difficult guide exams in the world."
The department of national parks has launched an investigation into the tragedy, which is reported to be focusing on Fouches conduct during the incident.
Author Apologizes about False Air Zimbabwe Story, August 8 1999
The author of an article which appeared recently in the Chicago Tribune, claiming that on a flight from Kariba to Hwange in Zimbabwe, the pilot had flown the plane without the assistance of a co-pilot and had been forced to break into his cockpit with an axe when the door closed, has apologized to the national airline.
"May I offer my unconditional apologies for any harm caused to Air Zimbabwe. I very stupidly wrote "Choppy Skies" as though it had happened to me, when actually it was a story a passenger told me. I dont know what made me write it in the first person, except that I guess I thought it would be a more vivid story that way. I can only say that I believed it to be true, so I didnt think it would make any difference," said Gaby Platter in a letter this week to Air Zimbabwe public relations manager, David Mwenga. "Clearly, it was not true. I was completely shocked and mortified when I discovered it was from a collection of travelers tales. Apparently, someone once had this experience and it has been retold countless times about different places and airlines" she continued.
She apologized profusely for the effect the story had had. "It must have offended you (Air Zimbabwe) terribly, and I again offer my sincerest apologies for that." Plattner said she feels "doubly terrible" over the article as she had had an incredible time backpacking in the country. She said the last thing she wanted to do was cause problems in the country where she had found the people so kind, and the wildlife so astounding.
US Paper Apologizes to Air Zimbabwe, August 15 1999
A major United States newspaper has apologized to the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, for a recent article which claimed that on a flight from Kariba to Hwange, a pilot had been forced to break into his cockpit with an axe and that he had flown the plane without the assistance of a co-pilot.
In a recent article entitled 'A white-knuckle flight on Air Zimbabwe', a correspondent of the Chicago Tribune's travel section claimed that the biggest adrenaline rush during her back-packing safari to Zimbabwe, last October, came during a flight from Kariba to Hwange. The article claimed that the flight in question was three hours behind schedule, the flight interior was dirty, and that the 90 passengers on board were informed by the pilot that they would proceed without the co-pilot as they had waited long enough for him.
When the plane reached cruising altitude, claimed the article, the pilot announced to the passengers that he was putting the plane onto auto pilot as he had to use the toilet. He then came out of the cockpit and fastened the door with a rubber band to a hook on the wall.
The story states that while the pilot was using the toilet, there was turbulence and the rubber band holding the cockpit door snapped, and the door swung shut. With no co-pilot to open the door from the inside for him, the pilot just stood there, horror-struck.
After a moment of contemplation, said the article, the pilot rushed to the back of the plane, returned with a big axe, and unceremoniously chopped down the cockpit door.
Having gained entry, he is said to have announced to the passengers: "Ah, ladies and gentlemen, we just had a little problem there, but everything is fine now. We have plans to cover every eventuality, even pilots getting locked out of their cockpits. So relax and enjoy the rest of the flight. "We should be landing in about 20 minutes."
Air Zimbabwe recently wrote a strong letter of protest to the newspaper, complaining about the article which it described as totally untrue, unprofessional, and damaging. "I cannot for one moment believe that a paper with a reputation such as the Chicago Tribune's would accept such sick lies as a pilot breaking down the door to the cockpit with an axe," complained the airline's public relations manager, David Mwenga."We do not keep axes on our aircraft. For what purpose? We never fly aircraft without the full complement of cockpit or cabin crew. The distance between Kariba and Hwange is so short that our pilots fly manually; rarely would they fly on auto pilot for that distance."
The newspaper recently wrote back to Air Zimbabwe, stating that the author of the article had since admitted that she had not experienced any of the supposed incidents she wrote about and now claimed that another passenger had told her the story but she had written the story as if it had been a personal experience, "to heighten the dramatic effect."
The paper has since published a correction and clarification. Air Zimbabwe is seeking legal advice in the United States over the article.
Visitors to Tanzania Warned, August 22 1999
Tourists entering Tanzania from Kenya have been urged to use authorized routes following last weeks attack on a group of visitors in Tanzanias northern circuit. The attack, on a group of 17 mostly Spanish tourists, took place at Roroki Kimoi village. A group of bandits, believed to be Somalis who operate in the Ngorongoro area, waylaid a vehicle belonging to the Nairobi-based Kamanga Tour Company and robbed the tourists of various items including passports, cameras, money and other valuables.
Police in Arusha region, wildlife officials and a tour operators association have advised visitors to stick to well-known routes and ensure undertake their tours under the guidance of authorized firms. Some Kenyan tour operators are known to take tourists into Tanzania through clandestine routes which are not guarded by Tanzanian authorities.
Legally, Kenyan travel agents are only allowed to ferry tourists to Arusha, from where Tanzanian registered travel agents are supposed to take over. However, some Kenyan firms are accused of taking tourists to Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National parks through Lake Natron. They usually go back the same day without being detected by Tanzanian wildlife authorities. They evade taxes and the $25 charged by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) as entry fees per tourist. The Kenyan border area of Lake Natron has no immigration or police post to monitor security since it was closed in 1977.
The chief conservator of the NCCA, which groups together the Ngorongoro crater and the Olduvai and Maasai tourist cultural bomas, Mr. Emmanuel Chausi, noted that tourists visiting areas outside the conservation area could be easy targets for bandits.
The government in February this year closed an illegal tourist route at Kimengelia on the eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro because it was being used by some Kenyan tourist companies to clandestinely take tourists for mountain climbing.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mrs. Zakia Meghji was at the time quoted as saying that all illegal routes would be closed to ensure the safety of tourists.
Credit Card Fraud Hits Zimbabwe, August 22 1999
A scam has been uncovered at Barclays Bank in Zimbabwe, involving American Express and Visa credit cards. Zimbabwe's white-collar crime could possibly have an adverse effect on visitors relying on their international credit cards as payment for services and purchases. Several of Harare's large stores have instructed employees not to accept transactions using American Express cards, as they claim tourists have been among those customers fraudulently using the American Express card as payment. Travelers' checks are the most convenient means of payment at present, as guests settling accounts with credit cards are having to wait for bank authorizations.
Air Zimbabwe to Lease Out Kariba/Hwange Routes, August 22 1999
Air Zimbabwe has started negotiations with other airlines with a view to parceling out its services to the resort towns of Kariba and Hwange. The two routes were proving unprofitable for the airline which has decided to concentrate on its long-haul flights, leaving the other routes to smaller airlines.
Air Zimbabwe managing director Tich Garabga confirmed the airline was holding negotiations with a number of industry players with a view to allowing them to operate on its routes. "We will not withdraw our flights from Harare to Kariba and Kariba to Victoria Falls but are currently discussing with some domestic airlines with suitable aircraft, who have obtained authority from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, to operate the Harare/Kariba and Kariba/Victoria Falls routes," Garabga said.
Air Zambezi, which is owned by Rod Murphy, Oliver Chidawu and John Davie, is already servicing the Hwange/Victoria Falls route. It also flies to Kariba from Harare in competition with Air Zimbabwe. Negotiations are also under way with a Victoria Falls-based airline, Air Link.
Air Zimbabwe services the Harare/Kariba route using a BAe 146 which is on lease from the Air Force of Zimbabwe. It cannot use its wide-bodied Boeing 737 as the runway at Kariba is too short. Although the B737 is capable of landing at Kariba, this can only be done with highly-qualified training captains at the controls. The BAe 146 is also expensive to maintain.
Garabga said the airline was not withdrawing from the Harare/Victoria Falls route but would continue with its daily flights, using its own aircraft.
It is reliably understood however that Air Zimbabwe is withdrawing from the Harare/Kariba route, possibly from the end of this month.
"The entry of new carriers obviously provides more alternative routings, opening up hitherto attractive places unreachable in the past," the industry expert said. "Most importantly, in the structure of tourism you have the three "A"s: accommodation, attraction, accessibility. Zimbabwe ranked very highly in the first two "A"s, but it is the third and most critical, accessibility, which has been wanting. The arrival of new players with appropriate aircraft and capacity is a very welcome development," he said.
Urgent Bid to Prevent Over Development of Victoria Falls, August 22 1999
The Zambezi Society, which in 1996 called for an immediate moratorium on development at the Victoria Falls until a Master Plan for the town was in place, has expressed delight that the uncontrolled development at Zimbabwe's premier tourist town has been brought into the open. The Society has made an urgent plea for the Canadian funders, the consultants and the Zimbabwean authorities responsible for accelerating the Master Plan to get it in place as quickly as possible, before the rest of the world abandons the Victoria Falls as a tourism disaster.
Specialist Guides Inspire Enthusiasm, August 22 1999
Over the years Wilderness Safaris has developed strong relationships with top naturalists. All are committed, dedicated professionals whose enthusiasm rapidly rubs off on to their guests. Between them, these guides specialize exclusively in birds, insects, flora, reptiles and mammals which include wild dog, cats and rhino. With many being successful authors, their resumes make impressive reading, revealing a combination of academic qualifications, extensive African experience, photographic and artistic skills as well as additional interests in subjects such as astronomy and local folklore.
Wilderness Safaris offers a range of guided safaris throughout Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and any scheduled or tailor-made safari can be turned into a specialist safari - catering to a wide range of budgets - simply by the addition of an expert guide.
At the less expensive end of the scale are cross-country participation camping safaris in Botswana and Zimbabwe, with transfers from camp to camp in 4x4 Landrover Tdi vehicles. A more expensive alternative could be a trip based on Wilderness' luxury tented camps and lodges, with guests transferring between camps by light aircraft. The specialist guide would join the party on arrival and remain with the group for the safari's duration. At the highest end of the scale is a safari utilizing private charter aircraft accompanied by either a pilot/guide or individual pilot and guide.
Contact Ultimate Africas office by email at email@example.com or by phone toll free within the United States on 1 800 461 0682 for background details about all the specialist guides it uses, as well as comprehensive information about Wilderness camps, safari options and the companys strict conservation ethic.
More Flights Between Hong Kong and Johannesburg, August 22 1999
Cathay Pacifics codeshare agreement with South African Airways now provides passengers with six flights a week between Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
Qantas Adds Flights to Africa, August 22 1999
Qantas will increase the number of flights between Australia and southern Africa from four to five in November this year, the additional service operating between Sydney and Johannesburg via Perth.
Lufthansa to Fly Direct Windhoek Harare, August 22 1999
Lufthansa, has been granted traffic rights by the Namibian and Zimbabwean Departments of Transport to operate a scheduled service between Windhoek and Harare. Three weekly flights will be available to travelers with immediate effect. The flights will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The airline's new flight is expected to boost the local tourism industry, as visitors to Southern Africa often combine two or more countries in their travel plans.
Swissiar Buys 20% of South African Airways, August 22 1999
Swissairs parent, the Sair Group, has purchased a 20% stake in South African Airways at a cost of US $230 million with an option to purchase another 10%. The deal represents the strongest air alliance in Africa, according to Phillippe Bruggisser, chief executive of Sair Group.
Cape Towns Robben Island Proclaimed World Heritage Site, August 22 1999
Robben Island, the site of the prison in which ex President Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated, has been officially proclaimed as South Africa's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, a status which is expected to draw thousands more tourists to the Western Cape each year.
In many ways the Western Cape represents the essence of South Africa's political history, with Robben Island as the primary symbol thereof. Proposals for the refurbishment and management of island houses to provide tourist accommodation is also currently under consideration.
Recent research undertaken by South African Tourism (Satour) indicated that, after the country's scenery and wildlife, the political changes in the country are the third most important motivating factor among all foreign visitors to South Africa.
The Cape Peninsula National Park which incorporates Table Mountain, is also scheduled to be declared a World Heritage Site.
Africa Seeks 777 Trillion Dollars In Reparation For Enslavement, August 22 1999
Africa is demanding US $777 trillion dollars from Western Europe and the Americas in reparation for enslaving Africans while colonialising the continent.
The African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission said it would set up an international team of lawyers from Africa and the diaspora to pursue all legal means to collect the money.
The Accra declaration on reparations and repatriation, adopted Tuesday by the commission, added that the money would be demanded from ''all those nations of Western Europe and the Americas and institutions, who participated and benefited from the slave trade and colonialism.'' It said it would demand justice through monetary compensation and that it would request, with assistance of the UN and OAU, that interest be paid on the money.
The document was adopted at the first international conference of the commission at the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture. Signed by Dr Hamet Maulana and Mrs Debra Kofie, co-chairpersons of the commission, it said: ''The socio-economic deterioration of the global African society today is directly linked to the burdensome African debt crisis, which has strangled development in Africa. Worldwide monitoring and networking systems should be instituted to ensure that reparation and repatriation will be achieved by the 2004.'' It emphasized that ''there is no African debt'' and demanded that the current ''international debt owed by Africa be unconditionally cancelled.''
The declaration said all those in the diaspora, who want to return and settle in Africa, should be allowed to do so and that those who enslaved and colonized Africa should provide seaworthy vessels and aircraft for such repatriation.
World Rafting Championships Get Underway, August 22 1999
All eyes are on the magnificent Augrabies Gorge in South Africa where the world's top 13 rafting nations last Tuesday began taking part in the 1999 Camel White Water Challenge, the official world rafting championships. In a once-off privilege, special permission has been granted by the South African National Parks Board to host the event on the Orange River, in the spectacular arid lunar landscape of the Augrabies Falls National Park in the Northern Cape.
This is the first time that the event - which is held annually on the world's greatest rivers - is held in South Africa.
Together with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry which will provide the optimum amount of water to create a world-class white water run, the event promises to be exceptional.
Sixteen teams from 13 nations are competing for the ultimate title in world rafting. New entries include Brazil, Japan and the Netherlands. The other countries, in order of their positions at the 1998 Camel White Water Challenge, are Slovenia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, US, Britain, South Africa and Canada. The women's category comprises of Britain, New Zealand and US. Slovenia are the defending Camel White Water Challenge champions, having won the event for four consecutive years.
There is no doubt that the combination of sensational white water action, the majestic granite gorge, vineyards flanked by breath-taking desert scenery, traditional bushmen and the other gems of the Kalahari, will create a visually spectacular event which will make South Africa proud. The Camel White Water Challenge is broadcast to over 140 countries and viewed by an estimated one billion people.
Cape Gardens Considered Among Worlds Best, August 29 1999
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town have been voted as one of the top seven botanical gardens in the world by the International Botanical Congress. Kirstenbosch is already one of the top attractions in the whole of South Africa. Research undertaken by South African Tourism indicates that overseas tourists rate Kirstenbosch as the sixth most popular tourist attraction in the Western Cape, and the eighth most popular attraction in the entire country. The other six gardens chosen by the Congress are the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Edinburgh and Sydney; the Missouri Botanical Garden and the New York Botanical Garden in the USA; and the Komarov Institute Botanic Gardens in Russia.
New Adventure Tours for Cape Town, August 29 1999
Cape Town-based Abseil Africa has launched two new adventure tours which allows participants to learn about the ecology and history of the area in which they find themselves while enjoying adrenaline-pumping activities. The first involves a "hair-raising" 90 meter waterfall abseil into the indigenous "Lost World" forest, at a site just outside Plettenberg Bay. Guides are on hand to show participants around the forest and provide them with useful information about the local fauna and flora. The second tour incorporates a guided caving expedition in the Kalk Bay area where participants complete a 30 meter abseil, crawl through tunnels and visit several caves. Specialist guides highlight the various rock formations and other aspects of cave life. No experience is needed for either tour - just reasonable fitness, good walking shoes and a spirit for adventure. In both instances the necessary equipment will be provided, such as helmets, gloves and headlamps.
Return to Weekly Update Archive