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Friday 20 October 2006

Furore erupts over Vic Falls tourism project

PLANS to build a luxury hotel and country club estate in Zambia’s Mosi ao Tunya National Park have been met head-on by thunderous protest. The development, to be built and operated by South Africa’s Legacy Group, is located within the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site on what local conservationists are calling a “prime wildlife corridor”.

Various organisations are calling into question the Zambian Wildlife Authority’s (Zawa) decision to award a concession of this size in the Park. The Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia claims the resort is being built on a specifically identified narrow part of the park where elephant cross the river and move through to the gorges; “an area of major conservation importance for water birds and other wildlife”. The development, they say, is thus in direct contradiction with conservation efforts which seek to open up elephant corridors into Zambia in an attempt to ease pressure from elephant populations in Chobe and to bring elephant back into areas of Zambia where many have fled due to poaching in the past.

Zambia’s National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) has confirmed that the area in question has been earmarked for tourism development and that Legacy Holdings Zambia holds a tourism concession agreement with Zawa to develop the Mosi-oa-Tunya Hotel and Country Club Estate. Zawa and the NHCC claim that any proposed development in the World Heritage Site will be done within the context of the park’s management plan, as well as within national and international environmental guidelines for such an ecological and culturally sensitive site. “It is in this context that the proposed development by Legacy Holdings Zambia Limited should be understood that all is within the spirit of Environmental Requirements,” says NHCC Executive Director Donald Chikumbi.

Furore erupts over Vic Falls tourism project (17/10/2006)