Ultimate Africa travel and wildlife news archive
US President to Tour Africa, March 1 1998
United States President Bill Clinton's five-nation African tour, the first by a sitting US President since Jimmy Carter, is set for March 23 through April 2, 1998.
In December of 1997 US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Tanzanian Airlines Lose Business to Speed Boats, March 1 1998
According to the Tanzanian Aviation Department since the liberalization of the water transport industry in Tanzania, and particularly in Zanzibar, airlines operating on the Zanzibar - Dar es Salaam route are losing business.
Due to a growing preference for water transport by speed boat, some aircraft, including charter flights, have been leaving Zanzibar for Dar es Salaam with very few or no passengers.
Experts Race to Save Oldest Known Footprints, March 1 1998
The oldest known human footprints at Langebann Lagoon, 75 miles north of Cape Town, South Africa are under threat from curious visitors who have damaged the delicate fossilized prints. Now authorities are almost certain the prints will be have to be cut out of the ground and moved into the South African Museum in Cape Town, possibly as early as May this year.
Fossilized in sandstone, the prints were made 117,000 years ago, probably by a young woman walking on a rainswept and sloping dune near the lagoon. Quickly buried by windblown sand, the preserved prints gradually turned to stone.
The prints were discovered in 1995 by geologist David Roberts. Although much older footprints of ape-like human ancestors exist, the Langebaan tracks are the oldest prints made by anatomically modern humans, indistinguishable from people living today.
Air Malawi To Resume Flights To London, March 1 1998
Air Malawi will resume flights to London in March after an absence of 20 years. The direct flight from Lilongwe, the Malawian capital, will operate weekly for the non-stop journey to London's Gatwick Airport.
Using a wide-bodied Boeing 767-200ER aircraft the flight, outbound each Tuesday will be the only direct air connection to London from Malawi. Both British Airways and the joint KLM-Kenya Airways flights from Malawi stop in second and third countries before going to Britain.
Congo War on Poachers, March 1 1998
Armed rangers are to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo's national parks to protect white rhinos and other wildlife species from poachers.
Environmentalists have become increasing worried that the country's last wild population of white rhinoceros at Garamba National Park, will soon be extinct.
Southern African Governments Contribute to Giant Tourism Project, March 1 1998
Five southern African Governments states are expected to contribute about US $200 million to a regional tourism project.
The project is an ambitious plan aimed at creating an international tourist attraction area to the north of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe that would incorporate game parks in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zambia. The international tourism development zone will cover an area of 260,000 square kilometres. The project would incorporate international tourism assets such as Livingstone in Zambia, Zimbabwe's Hwange national park, the Caprivi game reserve in Namibia, the northern Okavango in Botswana and the Mucusso and Luena national parks in Angola. About 60,000 new jobs directly related to tourism would be created.
Ken Small, project manager, said that the governments of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe would contribute about 10 percent of the total cost of the project while the remaining 90 percent or US $500 million would be taken up by the private sector.
He said the governments contribution would be through the upgrading of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports and telecommunications while the private sector would invest in hotels and related facilities.
Zambian Government Moves Ahead with Tourism Policy, March 1 1998
The Zambian Government is busy working with the Zambia National Tourist Board on a comprehensive national tourism policy.
The Zambian Government hopes that the total number of visitors to Zambia will rise to beyond 302,000 this year against the 288,000 tourists who visited in 1997.
Policy objectives include the pursuit of responsible tourism development based on the respect for good economic, habitat and wildlife sense. The tourism ministry also views the participation of local communities in the promotion of tourism as being of crucial significance.
Zambian Tourism Policy Yields Results, March 8 1998
Zambia's new national tourism policy, approved by the Zambian cabinet last year, has begun to yield positive results by increasing national tourism receipts. Zambian Tourism Minister, Amusaa Mwanamwambwa, said the first ever tourism policy for Zambia has already seen international arrivals rise dramatically from 263,968 in 1996 to 287,962 in 1997. Investment in tourism is expected to create 622 new jobs in 1998, a significant development amid claims of job losses elsewhere.
The government policy, which encourages the setting up of private game ranches has led to several new developments. There are today 38 game ranches with an animal population of over 12,000.
The policy will result in the department of national parks and wildlife service being reconstituted into a statutory body to be called the Zambia Wildlife Authority. The objective of the transformation is to create an efficient and effective institution that will sustainably manage Zambia's wildlife estate and its administrative structures.
In 1997 the Zambian Tourism Ministry led a crack down on commercial poachers resulting in 1,942 poachers being arrested. Of these 1,427 persons were convicted in court. The ministry recovered 253 elephant tusks, confiscated 419 military weapons, captured 955 muzzle loading guns, 121 shot-guns and 93 sporting rifles. This success story is, however, toned down by the fact that the ministry had 12 of its game scouts shot by poachers, 8 killed by wild animals and two who accidentally drowned.
Zambia's tourism package is multi-faceted and not only based on wildlife. In addition to wildlife sanctuaries there is a rich cultural heritage and history and natural wonders like the mighty Victoria Falls.
New Developments on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls Bring Hope, March 8 1998
Zambian tour operators have had their hopes raised by Sun International who will be taking over Zambia's Mosi-O-Tunya Inter Continental Hotel and Rainbow Lodge at the end on March 1998.
The news has delighted many tour operators who say Sun International will use its leverage to entice tourists from all over the world to Livingstone, Zambia. Wasawange Lodge General Manager Doreen Adams said Sun International intend to demolish Mosi-O-Tunya Hotel and Rainbow Lodge and erect ultra modern structures.
Mozambique's Newest Resort, March 8 1998
Mozambique's newest resort - Zongoene Lodge is situated 192km north of Maputo "where the Limpopo bends and winds to meet the sea between an ancient lighthouse (still working) and the beach". Guests can visit the lighthouse for drinks at sunset.
Phinda Reserve Wins Major Eco Award, March 8 1998
Conservation Corporation Africa's Phinda Resource Reserve, located in South Africa, won the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award for the "Southern" region, which includes Africa, the Middle East & the Indian subcontinent.
The award recognizes organizations in the tourism industry which have made positive contributions towards local environments or heritage.
Phinda, an ecotourism resort-style development in the Great St. Lucia Wetland, aims to rehabilitate the land to its natural state and reintroduce endemic species. In 1995 the reserve was declared a Natural Heritage Site.
The Phinda Reserve lodges have been built on stilts to avoid disturbing ground habitats, use solar power, recycle waste materials, and are working in partnership with the local community through direct employment & community development projects.
Zimbabwean President Survives Nature's Blows, March 8 1998
A bolt of lightning struck a tree at President Robert Mugabe's official residence during a thunderstorm last Tuesday, March 3, 1998. It is unknown whether Mugabe was at his residence, Zimbabwe House, at the time.
It has also been reported that an Air Zimbabwe plane that carried Mugabe to a regional summit in neighboring Mozambique on Sunday, March 1, 1998 hit a gust of wind mid-air and almost crashed on landing in Maputo. "The Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 swerved in mid-air and bumped onto the tarmac sending passengers screaming and the welcoming party on the ground panicking." Ziana said.
Presidential security official Frank Mutambara was quoted as saying "We could not believe it. We thought the worst was going to happen as the plane was coming very fast and we even feared that it was going to hit the terminal buildings.'' Nobody was hurt in the incident.
1999 Camel Trophy to be Held in Zambia?, March 15 1998
Zambia may host the 1999 International Camel Trophy competition. The International Camel Trophy is a world-wide competition with participants traveling long distances in expeditions across unfamiliar lands.
Should Zambia host this event then more than 4,000 journalists can be expected to converge on Lusaka to cover the happenings and to broadcast the event live to three million viewers around the globe.
South America is the sight of the 1998 Camel Trophy while the 1997 Trophy was held in Mongolia. The first Camel Trophy was held in the Amazon and hundreds of competitors have taken part since then.
Elephants Wreak Havoc, March 15 1998
Villagers living near Livingstone, Zambia have appealed to the Zambian Department of Wildlife to control several rogue elephants. The jumbos are, curiously, said to be stateless as they have a habit of crossing the Zambezi River at random into either Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana or Namibia.
The elephants may be made residents of the nearby Musi-Oa-Tunya Game sanctuary.
Wildlife In Virunga Reserve Under Threat, March 15 1998
The Foundation for the Survival of the Virunga Game Reserve (in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire) has called for urgent measures to protect the park and its wildlife population from poachers.
Following a massive influx of refugees since 1994, 10 mountain gorillas had been killed in the southern part of the Virunga Park - four of which were Silver Back gorillas.
Park officials recently released data illustrating the dire situation. The data shows that in 1981, the reserve had 21,095 hippopotamus, 9,715 buffalo, 751 elephant and 14,000 antelope. By 1995, the numbers had dropped to 3,000 hippopotamus, 6,300 buffalo, 450 elephant and 6,000 antelope.
Hundreds of thousands of animals were massacred by the former Zairean and Rwandan armed forces, the Interahamwe, and Congolese troops during and after the war which removed the government of late Mobutu Sese Seko in June 1997.
Infrastructure at the country's 12 game reserves has broken down completely.
Air Zimbabwe in Regional Cooperation Exercise, March 15 1998
Air Zimbabwe will begin to operate flights to London next month on behalf of airlines in Zambia and Malawi from their respective capitals as part of a regional cooperation exercise. The arrangement calls for Air Zimbabwe to service the London route on behalf of Zambia Express from the Zambian capital Lusaka while in Malawi the Zimbabwean carrier will operate Air Malawis London flights from Lilongwe.
The Lusaka flight lands at Heathrow Airport while the Lilongwe flight will go to Gatwick Airport, both outside London.
Botswana's New President Has Budget Surplus, March 15 1998
Botswanan Finance Minister Festus Mogae is planning a budget surplus of $50 million, making Botswana the only sub-Saharan African country to have a surplus.
In April, Mogae takes over as president from Sir Ketumile Masire, who is retiring.
Of a total budget of $2 billion, 23% is spent on education, followed by local government, lands and housing with 19 % of the total, and 15% spent mainly on defense and the police.
Major Changes to Kenya Airways Network, March 15 1998
Kenya Airways announced plans to transform itself into an all-jet network over the next few months connecting over 400 city-pairs a week with a maximum of 2 hours connecting time through Nairobi.
Some major changes include: expanding the domestic network in Kenya through an alliance with Eagle Aviation; introducing 3 additional aircraft and phasing out the Fokker 50; shorter flight times and new levels of comfort & convenience with the new all-jet fleet; more flights to Europe and the East and phasing out flights to Paris and Rome.
South Africa Airport Taxes to Increase, March 15 1998
All passengers departing South Africa's state-owned airports will be paying increased airport departure taxes as of April 1, 1998.
International departure taxes will increase to R63 (from R60) and domestic departures will increase to R20 (from R19). Travel from state-owned airports to neighboring countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland) will be taxed R40 per departure.
State-owned airports include East London, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, George & Upington
Clinton Starts Historic Tour of Africa, March 22 1998
US President Bill Clinton's 11 day trip to Africa is the biggest tour of Africa by a US president ever.
Partnership, rather than paternalism, will be the underling theme as Mr. Clinton and his super-sized delegation, numbering around 800 people, travel on to Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal.
By far the longest stay will be in South Africa in the company of President Nelson Mandela. The America delegation will spend several days in Capetown before heading north to the capital, Johannesburg.
Botswana has some of the finest wildlife in the continent and the Clintons are expected to take the opportunity to relax before traveling on to Senegal.
Clinton to Showcase Botswana's Stability on Visit, March 22 1998
U.S. President Bill Clinton will highlight Botswana's record of democratic stability as an example for other African states when he visits. Clinton will be in Botswana when retiring President Ketumile Masire hands power to Vice-President Festus Mogae on March 31.
Since gaining independence from Britain in 1966, Botswana has been an island of tranquillity. It has been noted that the peaceful transfer of power from Masire to Mogae was one of very few such instances in Africa's post-colonial period.
South African Airways Expands Non-Smoking Policy, March 22 1998
With effect from April 13, 1998 South African Airways is adopting a non-smoking policy on all its international flights, except for flights to Osaka and Dubai where there's still a high demand for seating in the smoking section.
Air Passengers in Zimbabwe to Pay More, March 22 1998
As of April 1, 1998 passengers flying on domestic flights within Zimbabwe will pay a departure fee of Z $50 (US $3)
The departure fee for Zimbabweans traveling abroad will be increased from Z $20 to Z $100 while foreigners will continue to pay US$20 (Z$332).
No comment could be obtained from the Department of Civil Aviation on the reasons for introducing the fee on domestic flights and increasing the departure fee for foreign trips.
Trans-Kalahari Highway Opened, March 22 1998
The Trans-Kalahari Highway was officially opened on Friday, following completion of the Botswana section. The 600-kilometer stretch of the road, built over five years, cost the government of Botswana about US $75 million.
Namibian President Sam Nujoma and President Ketumile Masire of Botswana inaugurated the road, which links Africa's east coast in Mozambique to Namibia in the west.
Kenyan Tourism Breathes Last Breathe, March 22 1998
Kenya's tourism industry, its spine broken by the ethnic violence that hit parts of Mombasa last August, is gasping its last unless emergency measures are taken to set it on the road to recovery.
Few are optimistic about the survival of the industry, while the pessimists are already trying to salvage what they can of their investment. Hundreds of people are being laid off weekly and the knock- off effect on the rest of the economy is now just being felt.
With infrastructure shot to pieces and the start of repair work estimated to be at least six months away, it is unlikely that the industry will soon come out of its slump.
Tourism industry stakeholders are almost unanimous in their demand that "something! anything!" be done to salvage the sector from total collapse.
While some experts think Kenya should insist on quality tourism others say the policy that discourages mass tourism should be reconsidered. "It is better we encourage more tourists whatever their quality to keep afloat instead of being forced to close down as we pursue 'quality' visitors who are not coming anyway," a South Coast hotelier who did not want to be identified.
Quality standards in many establishments are way below what similar hotels in other destinations offer. Mr. Godfrey Karume, a veteran of the industry, says the Kenyan market has out priced itself and does not deliver on quality. "We are charging five-star rates for three-star service!" Mr. Karume said.
Zambian Wildlife Scout Found Dead, March 22 1998
Wildlife officials in Mumbwa, Zambia has found the body of a wildlife scout who was shot dead by suspected poachers this past week.
The body was found using a helicopter in the jungle near Tree Tops Wildlife conservation camp about 225 kilometres into the Kafue National Park. Warden Mwenya said the scout was killed on Monday morning during an exchange of fire with heavily armed suspected poachers.
Northwest Airlines and Kenya Airways Join Forces, March 29 1998
Kenya Airways has signed a co-operation agreement with Northwest Airlines to strengthen its presence in North America. Brian Davies, Managing Director of Kenya Airways, said that the agreement will introduce code-sharing flights by both airlines between North America and Kenya.
Davies pointed out that both airlines had also agreed on mutual participation for passengers in their frequent flier programs.
Together, Kenya Airways and the Northwest KLM global alliance service over 400 destinations in more than 80 countries and operate some 60,000 code-sharing flights per month.
Last Bushmen in Botswana's Kalahari Resist Eviction, March 29 1998
The government of Botswana is determined to evict the Khwe Bushman from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. But the Bushmen are resisting and asserting their right to the land.
The Khwe are one of the San or 'Bushman' peoples, who are the original inhabitants of the Kalahari desert. In the 1960's the 52,000 square kilometre Central Kalahari Game Reserve was set up as a haven for the Bushmen, as well as the animals they hunted. Until 1997, about 1,000 people lived there permanently, while another 2,500-3,000 used the area. The majority of the inhabitants were Khwe.
Originally the men hunted antelope and other animals, and the women gathered the wild berries and roots which were the basis of their diet. In recent decades they had begun also to grow a few crops and keep some livestock, and were now settled for much of the time in villages, including the official government settlement at Xade.
Since 1986 the Botswana government has had plans to move the Khwe and the Bakgalagadi stating that it is necessary to preserve the wildlife and enhance the tourism potential of the Reserve; and that the people must be rescued from their allegedly miserable life among animals and moved into settlements, so as to integrate with the rest of Botswana society.
However many believe that the government wishes to exploit the large diamond deposits suspected to be in the Reserve.
The Bushmen have set up a negotiating team and have asked for a meeting to discuss their claim to the Reserve as its indigenous inhabitants, and for a stop to all removals until the land claim had been resolved.
Mozambique Untapped Tourist Paradise, March 29 1998
A narrow sandy track flooded in places to near marsh conditions and winding its way through thick jungle and vast virgin bushland is the focus of an ambitious scheme to revive tourism in Mozambique.
The road will become a main highway bringing visitors to the pristine southern tropical reaches of Mozambique as the governments of the former Portuguese colony, South Africa and Swaziland try to boost development and infrastructure in the sparsely inhabited and scenically breathtaking region.
Largest Hotel to open at Cape Town's Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, March 29 1998
One of the largest hotels ever built in southern Africa, the 546 room, Holiday Inn Cape Town Waterfront opens in July 1998. The hotel will be operated by Southern Sun Hotels.
The hotel will be aimed at mid-market business and leisure travelers, who want full-service, value-priced accommodation which is also near the Cape's Waterfront attractions. Rooms will all offer mountain and sea views and include 6 specially equipped paraplegic rooms and non-smoking rooms. It will also offer a restaurant, breakfast room, bar, fitness center, swimming pool, in-room business facilities and entertainment plus meeting rooms.
Zimbabwe Government Does About Face on Land Reform, March 29 1998
In what appears to be a complete reversal of previous land reform policies, the Zimbabwe government now says it's prepared to pay for fully developed white owned farmland on which to resettle landless peasants and emergent black commercial farmers.
An official in the land ministry has said that it's been decided that the land reform program is to be carried out in a transparent manner and in accordance with the law. The official is quoted as saying that, as a result, all fully utilized land will be paid for.
But no payment will be made for what was considered to be derelict land.
Zimbabwe's Lands and Agriculture Minister, Kumbirai Kangai, had confirmed the about-turn on the land issue.
Return to Weekly Update Archive