Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Santoga Project an Insult to Vic Falls?

Victoria Falls town has largely remained a natural and remote vestige, making this world class tourist attraction one of the Best World Heritage sites. Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has declared that the falls must remain so natural that if the first European to visit, David Livingstone who died in 1863, and the Tonga men Suzi and Chuma who showed Livingstone the place were to resurrect today, they would easily find their way around.
It is the unadulterated nature of Victoria Falls that has kept it ticking so much that any new project to be implemented must be carefully planned.
Of late there has been an attempt by Africa Albida to implement a $3,5 million zoo, disguised as an amusement park, on an animal corridor between Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and the Crocodile Farm, opposite the swathe of land between Elephant Hills Hotel and A'Zambezi River Lodge.
Dubbed Santoga, the project's main feature is a zoo, where wildlife will be displayed, while replicas of all tourist attractions in the country from Great Zimbabwe to Kariba will be erected.
"There will be shows throughout the day and lots of interaction with wildlife and hi-tech elements. The project is expected to bring major benefits to the Victoria Falls community, with spin offs to include the creation of more than 1 500 jobs," said Dave Glynn, AAT group chairman.
While job creation and new projects are welcome but wildlife is the mainstay of Zimbabwe's tourism and tourists the world over come not because we have the best hotels but parks where wildlife roam wild and free.
Several questions have been asked about how the game-drive industry in Victoria Falls, will be affected by the Santoga project.

Questions are being asked about how the blockage of the animal corridor that has been giving wildlife access to the Zambezi River, will deal a blow to the teeming wildlife.
Those who have driven along the road past Elephant Hills towards A'Zambezi River Lodge will testify to the amount of wildlife traffic, especially the impala and elephants that have left that corridor a stunted Mopane bush shrubbery. To block such a corridor is not only insensitive to the plight of wildlife but is utterly disgusting to conservationists.
The Victoria Falls Municipality and all and sundry in the town must have been sleeping on duty to allow the project, whose layout, infrastructure, design and content plans are very well advanced with completion set for July 2016.
A zoo is certainly not the best thing for Victoria Falls, never.
Not this time. Any project that drives away wildlife from Victoria Falls or unjustifiably violates wildlife rights is not suitable for a place like Victoria Falls.
The Santoga project needs to be reviewed and re-designed to ensure that it does not deface or soil the World heritage status of Victoria Falls.

Source:  Santoga Project an Insult to Vic Falls

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