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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)

Sunday 18 October 2015

Tourism provides hope for Zim economy

THE seven percent increase in international tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe in the first half of 2015 is a sign of hope and an indicator of improved international sentiment about the country.
Tourism is a strategic cash cow for the government, contributing about $1 billion to the national fiscus annually.

We reported yesterday that the country recorded a seven percent increase in international tourist arrivals to 930,276 by June 2015, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The figure compares favourably with 867,163 recorded in the same period last year.

The tourism authority says the increase has mostly been driven by the rise in arrivals from mainland Africa at a time when all other major markets experienced a decline except Oceania, which rose by 26 percent.

Arrivals from mainland Africa amounted to 811,717 up from 745,566 in 2014 representing a nine percent increase.

South Africa dominated African arrivals with 38 percent of the share given its big market, said ZTA.
We feel the growth in African arrivals is an eye opener, emphasising the need for the country to broaden its marketing scope across the globe.

While over the years we have generally tended to focus more on luring tourists from traditionally lucrative European and American sources, the latest statistics indicate a change in travel patterns.
This shows the African continent is lucrative too and the country stands to benefit immensely from tapping opportunities in it.

Thus, more marketing and engagement with African and Asian travellers is required to boost tourism earnings.

ZTA has said most arrivals from Africa came through Beitbridge Border Post and Harare International Airport.

In contrast, arrivals from Europe fell marginally by one percent with a decline in major markets including France, Germany, Italy, Nordic countries and Spain pulling down the overall performance of the region.

“The arrivals fell from 60,530 in 2014 to 60,021 in 2015. The European market share stood at six percent down one percentage point from seven percent in 2014. Europe remains the greatest overseas market for the country,” said ZTA.

We feel the tourism sector could capitalise on on-going government re-engagement efforts with the West to intensify its outreach programmes.

This will not only consolidate the present arrivals but entice new markets to also visit Zimbabwe.
This year the country expects to reap about $1, 5 billion from $827 million realised last year.
Arrivals from the Asian market dropped eight percent to 14,999 from 16,370 in 2014 with Japan and South Korea (the major markets) also declining.

However, China’s performance was encouraging, rising by 46 percent during the period under review.
“Research has shown that 81 percent of the Chinese arrivals entered through Harare International Airport, followed by Victoria Falls border with six percent, Victoria Falls airport with five percent and Kazungula with three percent,” said ZTA.

The authority noted the cumbersome visa procedure as a major inhibiting factor for the growth of this market in Zimbabwe.

It said steps were already under way to improve the Visa regime to attract more tourists.
America continues to be the second biggest overseas visitor to Zimbabwe since last year, having maintained an overall market share of three percent despite a 11 percent dip in arrivals to 27,000 from 30,373 in 2014.

During the period under review, Oceania registered a 26 percent increase from 11,575 arrivals in 2014 to 14,567.

Its market share stood at two percent up from one percent in the first half of 2014.
The Middle East continues to trail behind in its contribution to total arrivals into the country contributing less than one percent of the market share.

The region recorded a 33 percent fall in the first half of the year.

On accommodation statistics, ZTA said the average hotel room occupancy level shed one percentage point from 42 percent to 41 percent in the first half.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi has said Zimbabwe could achieve a $5 billion economy by 2020 with tourism contributing more.

Such an ambitious dream is commendable. We feel its success is hinged on collective efforts of all interested stakeholders.

Development of adequate infrastructure, fair regulation and taxation as well as professional media reporting, can help develop a robust tourism industry.

Source: Tourism provides hope for Zim economy (17/10/15)

Saturday 17 October 2015

Tourist arrivals up by 7 percent

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter

THE country recorded a seven percent increase in international tourist arrivals to 930,276 in the first half of 2015, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).

The increase was mostly driven by a rise in mainland Africa with all other major markets experiencing a decline except the Oceania, which rose by 26 percent.

During the comparable period last year, international tourist arrivals stood at 867,163.
Arrivals from mainland Africa registered 811,717, up from 745,566 in 2014 representing a nine percent increase.

South Africa dominated African arrivals with 38 percent of the share, said ZTA.

Most arrivals from Africa were through Beitbridge Border Post (71 percent) and Harare international Airport (12 percent).

At Beitbridge Border Post ZTA said most travellers were South Africans who were visiting friends and relatives and those on leisure.

The tourism authority said during the period under review, arrivals from Europe fell marginally by one percent with a decline in major markets including France, Germany, Italy, Nordic countries and Spain pulling down the overall performance of the region.

“The arrivals fell from 60,530 in 2014 to 60,021 in 2015. The European market share stood at six percent down one percentage point from seven percent in 2014. Europe remains the greatest overseas market for the country,” said ZTA.

Arrivals from the Asian market dropped eight percent to 14,999 from 16,370 in 2014 with Japan and South Korea (the major markets) also declining.

However, China’s performance was encouraging, rising by 46 percent during the period under review.
“Research has shown that 81 percent of the Chinese arrivals entered through Harare International Airport, followed by Victoria Falls border with six percent, Victoria Falls airport with five percent and Kazungula with three percent.

No single Chinese entered through Beitbridge.

“Further investigations also revealed that the bulk of the Chinese coming through the Harare International Airport are for business purposes. It is important to note that cumbersome visa procedures have been the major inhibiting factor for the growth of this market in Zimbabwe,” said ZTA.

The tourism body said steps were already underway to improve the visa regime to attract more tourists.

It noted that Americas continue to be the second greatest overseas visitors for Zimbabwe since last year.

The American region has maintained an overall market share of three percent. Arrivals from the America, like most other regions, fell by 11 percent from 30,373 in 2014 to 27,117.

During the period under review, the Oceania registered a 26 percent increase from 11,575 arrivals in 2014 to 14,567.

Its market share stood at two percent up from one percent in the first half 2014.

The Middle East continues trail behind in its contribution to total arrivals into the country contributing less than one percent of the market share.

The region recorded a 33 percent fall in the first half of the year.

On accommodation statistics, ZTA said the average hotel room occupancy level shed one percentage point from 42 percent to 41 percent in the first half.

“The occupancies were largely pulled down by declines in Masvingo, Nyanga and Mutare. Masvingo is largely dependent on domestic tourism and on average these constitute 92 percent of clients in accommodation facilities.

“Conferencing business greatly influences utilisation of facilities. Unfortunately, the current economic hardships have had an adverse impact on conferencing. On the contrary, Kariba and Hwange experienced positive growth in occupancies.

Source: Tourist arrivals up by 7 percent (16/10/15)

Slow pace of work on Zambezi water project a cause for concern

The idea to build a pipeline from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo was first mooted in 1912 by the British colonial rulers of the then Southern Rhodesia after realising that Matabeleland region suffered persistent droughts.

The implementation of the project has been hampered by all sorts of problems since then and its becoming a reality is still a distant dream whose tangible fruits would likely be enjoyed by generations to come, not this one.

The plan to draw water from the great Zambezi, regarded as the sole and permanent solution to the region’s perennial water woes, was to construct a dam with a capacity to hold 691 million cubic metres of water and the pipeline from the Zambezi River linking the dam with Bulawayo.

As per the plan, a green belt which is 30 kilometres wide on either side of the 450km pipeline was to be created and was to see more than five million hectares being put under irrigation.

“At the rate at which that project is progressing, it is likely to take another half-a-century more for it to be reality,” said Zapu spokesperson Mr Methuseli Moyo.

He said the project had suffered from a lot of political tensions and hence progress was slow.
“We have already lost 32 years since independence, as the central Government has done nothing major to take the project forward,” said Mr Moyo.

He said the colonial governments could not be entirely blamed for the slow progression of the water project, as they thought that black people were not desperate for development.

“I think the solution to this problem is for Government to come up with a clear formula to allocate funds to regions or provinces.

“Matabeleland North is rich in hard wood, methane, coal and other resources but these have not helped the region or the project itself, but if we had regional governments, people from Victoria Falls to Beitbridge, given their wealth and water challenges, will prioritise the completion of the project,” said Mr Moyo.

When implemented in full capacity, the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP), as it has become known, could be one of the drivers of the country’s Gross Domestic Product given that it would allow for millions of hectarage to be put under cultivation and other spin-off benefits.

It is worrying to note the snail’s pace at which the project is being undertaken, given the ultimate benefits of NMZWP.

Minister of Industry and Commerce and MDC president Professor Welshman Ncube said the progress of the construction of the project was by far unacceptable even after independence.

“It is very obvious that the project has been very slow and that is why the three parties in the Government of National Unity (Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC) agreed to make it a national project because it is a very big project,” said Prof Ncube.

He said the only solution to ensure that the NMZWP was completed was for Government to take charge of the project.

“It should be treated as a national project to allow Government to allocate meaningful funding towards the project,” said Prof Ncube.

Since 1912, successive governments have failed to implement the project citing high costs but lack of political will has also been cited as one of the major stumbling blocks to the success of the project.
The project was previously being run by the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust with Dr Dumiso Dabengwa as chairman, before the Inclusive Government decided to take over.

Bulawayo United Residents’ Association (Bura) chairperson Mr Winos Dube said the water project had been negatively impacted by political squabbles and the fight for controlling the project.
“What needs to be done is for people to work together because this project, once it is complete, will benefit all Zimbabweans,” said Mr Dube.

He said unity of purpose among political players and the powers that be would be advantageous to the development of the project.

“If people unite, you will see progress in the project because when all is said and done the people need water,” said Mr Dube.

According to a plan by the Ministry of Water Resources and Development, Phase One of this project is the construction of the Gwayi Shangani Dam, Phase Two is the construction of a pipeline from Gwayi Shangani Dam to Bulawayo. Phase Three will be connecting a pipe from Zambezi River to Gwayi Shangani Dam to increase the volume of water in the Gwayi Shangani Dam to enable for the actual pushing of substantial amounts of water from Gwayi Shangani to Bulawayo and the Midlands.
Phase Four will be taking water from Bulawayo through a pipeline or canal to Beitbridge.

As per the plan there will be off-takes along the route as this pipeline travels in Matabeleland North to Bulawayo. There will be some pipes that would branch off from that main pipe to service areas such as Kadoma, Kwekwe and Gweru and there will also be some branches that will take that water to areas like Plumtree and from there it would go to Beitbridge.

Bulawayo Agenda director Mr Thabani Nyoni said the name “Matabeleland” on the project only meant that the region was the chief beneficiary, but has been used to frustrate its progress.
“The project has degenerated to a case of abandonment especially in the national budget. The project has not benefited much from the allocations,” said Mr Nyoni.

He said from the civic society point of view, Matabeleland people should not lobby for the completion of the project by themselves but all stakeholders should play a part.

Water Resources and Development Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has in the past admitted that no government can do the project on its own, as it was a huge project.

According to Minister Nkomo, the project would require the private sector to partner Government as well as financial institutions from outside the country to chip in and assist bring the project to an end.

Source: Slow pace of work on Zambezi water project a cause for concern (16/10/15)

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.
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)

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Victoria Falls tourist areas exploited by local lovers

Adelaide Moyo Features Reporter

THE Big Tree, one of the best known trees in the world, found in the resort town of Victoria Falls is attracting more fornicating lovers than tourists lately.

Unusually for a Baobab Adonsonia digitata, the tree has both an impressive girth and is very tall at 22,40 metres in 2004 and 24 metres tall in 1985, according to Wikipedia. But neither the girth nor the height are of interest to lovers in the resort town. Rather they have interest in it only as a love nest.
They drive their flashy cars to the Big Tree and start exploiting each other’s bodies, giving little care to curio vendors who sell their wares to foreign tourists.

Brighton Ndlovu, a curio vendor operating near the Big Tree witnesses close to a dozen cars almost daily parked in the bush close to the iconic tree.

“Our vending zone has been invaded. It has been turned into a lovers’ nest. They openly engage in sex. We operate from this place because it’s popular with tourists who come to view the Big Tree. To our surprise we’re getting more of the sex maniacs than tourists of late. These people end up having sex in the bushy area near the Big Tree,” Ndlovu said.

His colleagues are baffled too by the motorists’ choice of a “quick sex” venue.

Business for the informal traders, has gone down lately. Ndlovu blames the sex crazy lot for repelling tourists from the Big Tree.

“Tourists have bumped into these lovers indulging in sex in their cars on so many occasions. I think the motorists prefer doing ‘it’ in the car for fear of being attacked by wild animals. They also can’t drive into secluded areas deep in the bush because there are more wild animals there. We witness most of these sex escapades when hiding from tourism police and rangers in the bush at times,” he said.

Sex in the bush or car and the decaying of morals in the resort town is giving senior citizens sleepless nights.

It has been turned into a fashion statement that is threatening to diminish Victoria Falls as a tourist destination.

Three weeks ago, residents of Victoria Falls were treated to free drama when a married man, Simba Shoko, was caught, red handed with a married woman, Faith Mathe. The two were having sex in a car parked in a bushy area near Masue Bridge.

Shoko and Mathe were arrested in exactly the same area where a Zimra boss, Jambo Nyongo, was caught naked having sex in a car with a married woman some months back.

Last month, a human resources boss from a local hotel was caught by his wife while also having a nice time with his lover at Mkhosana turn-off in the car. This followed a sad incident which cost the life of a 16-year-old Mosi-oa-Tunya High School girl two months ago. The girl’s body was found floating in the Zambezi River and her boyfriend, Brian Dube, was attacked by two assailants, Augustine Ncube and Nhlanganiso Luphahla. Dube and the girl were found picnicking near the Big Tree. The boyfriend was also beaten and left for dead and only managed to make a report to the police with the help of some tourists who later picked him up.

Ncube and Luphahla have since been arrested and are awaiting trial in Hwange.

Victoria Falls is well known to the world as a majestic tourist destination because of its scenic environs and state of the art hotel and lodge facilities as well as tour services. The mighty Victoria Falls, known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The smoke that thunders) in local language, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its waters fall 108 metres down while the Rainforest presents visitors with a rare treat of a natural equatorial habitat far away from the equator itself.

Most locals, it seems, have little appreciation of the scenic environs of their town.

They have turned sex into some form of recreation.

“Having sex in the bush doesn’t help give our town a good image. If these people were genuine couples they would make love in their houses. The fact that they prefer the bush shows how wrong the whole thing is. I think it’s best we respect our town as a tourist attraction. People come here from all over the world to view the beauty of the town, not a defiled resort,” said Musa Moyo of Mkhosana suburb.

Nkosilathi Dube, a resident, said people preferred the “safe haven” of the bush because of lack of privacy at most lodges in the resort town.

He noted that most people in Victoria Falls knew each other, hence their preference for the bush.
“I’m against such immoral behaviour but if people have to do it, they should book in lodges for their romping,” said Dube.

Residents want every person to work towards sprucing up the image of Victoria Falls.

They said “sex in the bush” frustrated efforts to market the town as a tourist destination of choice.
Tourism is the mainstay of the resort town’s economy.

Those who indulge in adulterous relationships fear the walls of hotels and lodges which they feel offer little or no privacy.

Khanondo Safaris and Tours manager, Ben Tessa, said people valued safety above everything else.
“It’s not that people can’t afford to book in a lodge. Some lodges charge ridiculously low prices for a room but people feel comfortable using the bush because they feel it’s safer there.

“This happens in almost all towns. Lovers drive to secluded places for sex but in the case of Victoria Falls, it’s different because it’s a small town as every incident gets to be known. If you book into a certain lodge with your lover, by the end of the day it will be known not because there is no more confidentiality by hotel staff but because everyone’s face is familiar and word spreads fast,” Tessa said.

The headmaster of Mosi-oa-Tunya High School, Rowland Sibanda, blamed such behaviour partly on the lack of mainstream entertainment for youths in the resort town.

He described such behaviour as disgusting to the community.

“I’m worried by an increase in the number of pupils who unashamedly engage in premarital sex especially with men older than them. As a leader who works with children I really don’t tolerate such behaviour. It’s our duty and responsibility as parents and teachers to come up with strategies to control such behaviour.

“The problem is there are no leisure centres like parks, play centres, libraries or community projects for youths in this town. As a result, youths end up visiting adult places of entertainment resulting in them partaking in activities meant for adults,” observed Sibanda.

He implored the local authority to come up with child-friendly budgets that promote the development of entertainment areas for children.

“This will help keep juveniles away from crime and other vices as well as enhance their chances to have a bright future,” said Sibanda.

Residents also blame long distance truck drivers who camp in the resort town’s Truck Stop for days waiting to be cleared at the border.

They suspect the truck drivers are one of the key contributors to the rise of HIV and Aids.

Victoria Falls Residents Association chairman, Morgan Dube, said casual sex in the bush was causing the disintegration of families.

“The culprits should be ashamed of such behaviour. Residents who engage in such activities should stop because many marriages are falling apart. We condemn such practices in the community and we call upon law enforcement agents to help us end such acts,” Dube said.

He recommended the enforcement of stringent laws by authorities forbidding sex in places of interest like the Big Tree.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management area manager in charge of Zambezi National Park, Edmore Ngosi, said they work hand in hand with the police in enforcing laws.

“We don’t allow people to stray into the forest and if we find anyone doing such things we don’t hesitate to arrest them and hand them over to the police,” he said.

Zambezi National Park encompasses Victoria Falls town.

Source: Vic Falls’ sex haven (12/10/15)

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.

Thursday 1 October 2015

Paramotor gliders for Vic Falls

THE build-up to the staging of the inaugural paramotor competition is gaining some momentum after the Air Sports Federation of Zimbabwe revealed yesterday that they are expecting more than 30 international competitors, including some from the United States, for this big event that is set to be held at Victoria Falls from January 4-8 next year.

Lawrence Madamombe, the ASFZ president, told The Herald yesterday that a paramotor club from the United States has already expressed an interest in sending some competitors to this event which is also expected to attract other top paramotor gliders from South Africa and a number of European countries, including Germany. “A paramotor club from the United States is willing to come and compete in our inaugural event at the Victoria Falls from January 4-8. I think this is a good start and a big boost for us as we now also have to move fast in having our own paramotor gliders from Zimbabwe who will take part in this international competition.

“We need to train about 10 to 15 racers and two to three instructor pilots who will train or handle our paramotor gliders between now and December before they compete in the international competition in January next year.

“The Paramotor Extreme Racing is sanctioned by the Air Sports Federation of Zimbabwe which is now recognised by the Sports Commission as the motherbody of all aviation sports in Zimbabwe.

“The international event in January 2016 is in line with the Government’s ZimAsset initiative in which we aim to grow our economy through sport tourism,” said Madamombe, a former Air Zimbabwe pilot.

He said they were expecting between 30 to 40 competitors and their supporting staff for the January 4-8 competition at the Victoria Falls and “although the number is lower, they usually have significant tourism revenue”.

“The big appeal of the event is not the number of the competitors but the wide coverage of the sport into millions of homes thus further putting our country, through the iconic Victoria Falls, on the world stage. “Paramotoring or paragliding are sports that are fast getting interest in the world. There are hundreds of thousands pilots in the world who partake in this sport. France alone has more than 25 000 registered pilots. Our objective is to bring these adventure pilots to our shores to compete in precision adventure flying.

Source: Paramotor gliders for Vic Falls (24/09/15)