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Sunday 31 January 2016

Littering and Dumping in Victoria Falls Carries Fines

(Victoria Falls)

29 January, 2016

The basic role of the Urban Councils Act in Zimbabwe is to regulate "the affairs of cities, municipalities, towns and local boards" ( This means that it governs local authorities in urban areas (while the Rural District Act governs local authorities in rural areas).

According to the Urban Councils Act (Chapter 29: 15), it is an offense to throw litter such as waste containers, clippings, rubbish, rubble, garden waste or vegetable matter, paper, etc. or any other matter or substance which is unwholesome, offensive or untidy.

In Victoria Falls, the Anti-Litter By-Laws have offences and penalties, which are as follows:

1. Street littering (bus tickets, food wrappers, cigarette packets etc) - US$ 50

2. Littering at picnic spots, lay-bys, parks and open spaces - US$ 50

3. Discharging rubbish from a vehicle - US$100

4. Dumping of garden refuse or building rubble where prohibited - US$250

5. Dumping of dead animals, filth or any substance which is unwholesome, offensive or untidy - US$300

6. Dumping of hazardous waste material - US$1000

7. Affixing a poster, sign or advertisement of any material to a wall, post, tree - US$300

8. Continuing contravention, for each day during which the contravention continues - US$100

In the Victoria Falls town centre, you will find trash receptacles along the roads, and at the supermarkets. If, for some rare reason you cannot find one, or they are filled up, the lodges and hotels in town will have somewhere for you to get rid of refuse.

Friday 29 January 2016

Low water levels at Victoria Falls highlight southern Africa’s worst drought in 30 years

Tourists post pictures on social media of iconic falls known as “The Smoke That Thunders” looking decidedly tame as farmers endure record drought that will cause hunger across the continent

Southern Africa is in the grip of an historic drought which has slashed crop production, killed cattle, shut off water supplies to rural communities and even diminished the mighty Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border to a shadow of its former self.
Tourists visiting the falls have posted pictures showing the famous Smoke That Thunders reduced in some parts to little more than a trickle, as markers show it is two metres below its habitual levels.
The low water mark has resulted in locals rechristening the Unesco’s world heritage site “Victoria Walls”. Earlier this month tourists could be seen crossing the cliff edge where the falls would normally be in full flow in January, while others swam in the Devil’s Pool right on the edge of the precipice, something that would normally be impossible.
Nicole Subramunian, a worker at a safari lodge on the Zambezi River which feeds the falls, said the low water levels were perilous for everyone.
“Low levels make boating a nightmare. Boats can get stuck on sandbanks and many hippos and crocs appear in these drier areas, which is dangerous,” she told The Telegraph.
Although the flow of water from the Zambezi River is always low during the dry season, conservation experts say the rains now flowing in from floodplains are six weeks too late.
Official data from the Zambezi River Authority shows that flows were 20 per cent lower on January 18 than the previous year, and that Lake Kariba, the world’s largest manmade reservoir that sits upstream of Victoria Falls, is only 12 per cent full at present.
The dam that sits across the lake supplies both Zambia and Zimbabwe with up to half of its power and yet ZRA said water levels were within two metres of its massive hydropower plants having to be shut down.
Both countries are already feeling the effects. Zambia relies on hydroelectricity for 99.7 per cent of its power in total.
Its president, Edgar Lungu, in October organised national prayer sessions for a strengthening of the economy and rain to fall but the prayers were not answered and in the same month, ZESCO, Zambia’s power supplier, implemented a programme of rolling blackouts for several hours each day.
Those have sent the cost of living for consumers skyrocketing and crippled the already struggling copper industry, which is central to Zambia’s economy.
Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, a similar power crisis means that urban residents go without electricity for more than 18 hours a day, with a knock-on effect for industry and business. At least 7,000 cattle are reported to have already died and northern herders are reportedly driving their animals into the country’s national parks, meaning they will compete with wildlife for scarce food resources.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government has struck a secret deal to buy expensive power from Eskom, the state power firm of its southern neighbour South Africa. The move prompted outrage from South Africans who have also been blighted by a lack of capacity this year, leading to frequent “load shedding” power cuts.
South Africa’s drought is said to be the worst for at least 27 years. Five provinces are close to being declared disaster zones because of a lack of water and citizens’ groups have been organising whip-rounds for watertrucks to conduct deliveries to rural areas. The country will also be forced to import an unprecedented five to six million tonnes of corn, its staple, from overseas.
Farmers have been forced to cull emaciated cattle and at least one is said to have committed suicide because of the tough conditions.
The World Food Programme has warned that 14m people across southern Africa face hunger because of poor harvests last year, which it has warned will be even worse this year.
Further north, Save the Children has categorised the situation in Ethiopiaas the second worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world, behind only Syria, with some 400,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition as a result of failed rains.
The drought has been attributed to El NiƱo, the climate phenomenonwhich sees Pacific Ocean warming that has a ripple affect on weather patterns across the world, and which this year was said by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) monitors to be the strongest on record.
This week, a new US study warned that the record-breaking string of hot years since the year 2000 was almost certainly a sign of man-made global warming.
In December, almost 190 nations agreed at the COP21 summit in Paris to shift from fossil fuels towards cleaner energies such as wind and solar power to limit warming.

Baby Elephant Airlifted To Harare after Mom Killed By Poachers

By Judith Sibanda 
Hwange, January 25, 2016

Parks authorities have airlifted a traumatised baby elephant to a Harare nursery after it strayed off to a residential settlement outside Hwange National Park when its mother and two other jumbos had been killed by poachers. Wild is Life Trust and Zen revealed on Friday that the young elephant, now named Little Africa, was “was spotted running, in a mad panic, through a small town”.

“He was covered in blood, dehydrated and severely traumatised. He was being chased by people and dogs, utterly confused and terrified,” the trust said in a statement. The young elephant was eventually subdued by a team of local residents who gave it water and washed off blood stains suspected to from its mother.

“Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) was immediately notified of the incident, and despatched a team to search for the herd, which was nowhere to be found,” the trust added. “The calf was loaded into the Zimparks vehicle and moved to the park’s management camp, where emergency supplies for milk dependent elephant calves are in stock.”

Investigations by the Zimparks team revealed that some three elephant cows had been killed in the area by poachers. The suspected poachers were immediately arrested but the tusks were not recovered, Wildlife is Life Trust added.

Meanwhile, Little Africa was kept at the Hwange National Park and fed the correct milk formula on an hourly basis. The calf was housed in a warm container, bedded down with grass after spending a week before being airlifted to the Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery in Harare. Wildlife is Life Trust thanked the pilots for executing the mission professionally.

"Finally, we were able to despatch a plane, kindly piloted by Kevin Leliard. Dr Mark Lombard and Jos Danckwerts flew up to Hwange in foul and turbulent weather, but they were flying against the clock,” the trust added. “Time was of the essence. The Zimparks team met them at the airport and the calf was immediately put onto an IV and then loaded into the plane. Little Africa travelled well and walked himself off the plane, into the embrace of the anxiously waiting ZEN team."

The calf is reportedly recovering at the nursery but was still stressed. "Africa is thin, however, his tolerance for the milk formula is holding,” the trust said. “It is no surprise that he has lost condition due to the stress that he has endured from losing his mother and family, entering new environments, adjusting to a new diet and the move by plane to the nursery. He has no teeth, which indicates a very young age. “We would estimate that he is only weeks old. He has an umbilical hernia which is somewhat worrying.”

The Wild is Life said the Zimparks team defied odds to keep the calf alive. Conservationists say there is an increase in the number of Zambian poachers roaming the Hwange National Park and the Zambezi National Park.

A number of suspected poachers have been arrested in recent weeks leading to the recovery of elephants tusks. Close to 100 elephants have been killed by poachers in the country's nature reserves since last year, forcing the government to deploy soldiers to fight the menace.

Source: Baby Elephant Airlifted To Harare after Mom Killed By Poachers (24/01/16)

Friday 22 January 2016

‘Ebola, tax spur 20% tourism arrivals drop’

TOURIST arrivals in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s prime resort, were down 20% in 2015 compared to the corresponding year due to the Ebola virus after-effects as well as tax introduced on foreign tourists, an industry official has said.
Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators president Clement Mukwasi told NewsDay that 2015 was tough for the tourism industry.
“Tourist arrivals in 2015 were down by 20% compared to 2014 weighed down by the issue of Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. This is the reason why a number of companies in the industry did not pay bonuses,” Mukwasi, an executive at Shearwater Adventures, said.
“This year, due to a number of measures we had put in place, we are expecting an increase of 10% above last year. We want to beat 2009 figures, but we need to work hard to achieve that. However, it’s going to be an expensive year to run business in the sense that marketing budgets are going to be huge.”
The tourism industry is on a recovery path, following the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which saw Zimbabwe losing business worth $6 million that year, according to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The virus triggered a spate of trip cancellations, while several foreign buyers withdrew from Zimbabwe’s premier tourism expo in 2014.
While Zimbabwe bemoans the Ebola outbreak, neighbouring Zambia was last year expecting one million tourist arrival, indicating an average 3,24% growth over five years.
Mukwasi said the completion of the much-awaited Victoria Falls International Airport would see more airlines being licensed to operate in Victoria Falls.
The government says the completion of the project will boost the airport’s aircraft handling capacity and tourism into Victoria Falls by accommodating around 1,2 million passengers per annum compared to the existing capacity of 400 000.
Mukwasi urged the government to desist from burdening the tourism industry by charging high value-added tax (VAT) and licensing fees.
He said the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists’ payments for accommodation and tourism-related services affected the industry.
Mukwasi said the industry also took a knock from the depreciation of regional currencies like the South African rand.
He said since the government declared Victoria Falls a tourism special economic zone, they had received a number of enquiries from investors.
According to a recent report by the ZTA, Zimbabwe’s overall tourist arrivals were at 930 276 in the first six months of 2015, compared to 876 163 registered in the corresponding period in 2014, boosted by mainly South African visitors.

The water flow over Victoria Falls is rising fast

WATER levels are now rising steadily at Victoria Falls, but African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) chairman Ross Kennedy says, regardless, Victoria Falls is a year round natural wonder.
“Like any piece of beautiful art, you can look at and admire at different times of the day, light, season, year, angles, and in this case from two countries, and appreciate different virtues and attributes of this incredible world wonder,” Mr Kennedy said.
“High or low water, Victoria Falls offers utterly different splendour, majesty, raw beauty and power – and so perhaps should in fact be a TWICE in your lifetime experience – to see them both?!”
A blog published by local tourism operator Wild Horizons last week stated:
The large fluctuation of the Zambezi River’s water levels are a part of a normal annual occurrence, with the minimum flow, which occurs in November, on average a tenth of the maximum flow in April, it said.
“This phenomenon means that viewing the waterfall at different times of the year produces vastly different experiences … in high flow the entire length of the Falls is a thundering wall of falling water, whereas in low water the underlying structure can be seen and visibility is far better,” it said.
The Zambezi River has been rising steadily since mid November, with more water now flowing over the world’s largest waterfall, following a drier than normal year last year.
Rafting Association of Zimbabwe chairman Skinner Ndlovu said daily water level readings from a hydrological station gauge upstream of Victoria Falls, show the Zambezi River has been rising by 0.5cm a day since Christmas.
“We are now just 15cm below the average water level of the Zambezi River at
Victoria Falls at this time of the year,” Mr Ndlovu said.
Low rainfall in the catchment area north of Victoria Falls during the 2014-2015 rainy season brought the water to its lowest level last year since 1995, which was a drier year, Mr Ndlovu said.

Source: The water flow over Victoria Falls is rising fast (19/01/16)

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Earthquake rattles Kariba

A 4,6 magnitude earthquake hit the Kariba area and parts of neighbouring Zambia on Saturday morning, raising fears about the safety of the vulnerable Kariba dam wall, although no damages were recorded on it and other infrastructure.

Kariba residents and their northern neighbours woke up to the rattling effects of the quake which lasted for about 15 seconds on Saturday at around 4am.

The quake was recorded by various organisations, with the Zambezi River Authority confirming the incident.

ZRA chief executive officer, Mr Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said yesterday that their infrastructure at Kariba was safe.

"Yes, there was a mild earthquake on Saturday, but the dam wall was not affected," said Mr Munodawafa. "No houses were damaged or infrastructure and that means the acceleration and velocity of the quake was not high."

Mr Munodawafa said the seismic risk analysis and diagnosis machine that monitors and assesses risk on the Kariba dam wall did not record any damage.

The Kariba dam wall was reported to have developed cracks way back, raising fears of a major catastrophe in the event of further strain.

The cracks are being attended to, with work and consultations at various stages.

Mr Munodawafa said a full assessment of Saturday's quake was still underway, with a full report expected soon.

Kariba resident Mr Sam Mawawo confirmed being woken up by the quake on Saturday morning.

"I was awakened by the rattling pots, pans and plates in the house which lasted for some seconds, but it was frightening," he said.

There are unconfirmed reports of one house having developed a crack as a result of the impact in the Baobab area of Kariba, but there were indications the house was not structurally sound.

Kariba district administrator Mr Amigo Mhlanga said he was yet to be briefed on the effects of the earthquake.

"My assistants are still assessing the situation and they will brief me of what took place and if there is any effect at all," he said.

Traditionalists view the tremors as a confirmation from the gods of their happiness following the conducting of rituals there recently.

Further north, the tremor was felt in most parts of the capital Lusaka and southern provinces of Zambia.

The United States Geographical Survey estimated the quake at 4,6 in magnitude.

The, which monitors earthquakes, recorded what it termed "a moderate earthquake" in Kariba.

Most people on both sides of the Zambezi River feared for the worst in view of reports of the vulnerability of the Kariba dam wall.

The US Geographical Survey notes that earthquakes with magnitude of up to 2,0 on the Richter Scale (a unit of measurement of earthquakes) are normally known as micro-earthquakes and are generally undetected, only picked up by localised seismographs.

Those of magnitudes of 4.5 or greater are strong enough to be recorded by sensitive seismographs.

Online earthquake monitors triangulated the epicentre about 31 kilometres from Chirundu at a depth of 10km underground.

Source: Earthquake rattles Kariba (12/01/16)

Surge in poaching sees 50 Zimbabwe rhinos killed

A significant surge in rhino poaching in Zimbabwe in 2015 saw at least 50 rhino poached, more than double the figure lost the previous year, a conservation group has reported.

Forty-two of the rhino lost last year were black rhino, said the Lowveld Rhino Trust in a statement. Only around 20 rhino were lost to poachers in Zimbabwe in 2014, according to the trust.
Although there were some rhino births recorded in 2014, the increase in deaths mean that Zimbabwe's total population of white and black rhino has dropped to around 800 from just above 800 in 2014.
Most of the rhino were lost in Zimbabwe's Lowveld area in the south of the country, where the rhino population is considered particularly valuable.
Said the trust: "The majority of losses were suffered in the region that contains the only Zimbabwe populations that are regarded by IUCN [World Conservation Union] as being genetically and demographically viable – the Lowveld Conservancies."
The figures come as state media reported on the arrest of four men in the Matopos National Park near the second city of Bulawayo for allegedly tracking a rhino in the park.
The Herald newspaper said on Friday that investigations were continuing into exactly what the four were doing inside the park. So far the group has only been charged with criminal trespass, according to the report. 
Their lawyer says they were on their way to buy a car in the nearby Gulati communal lands when they saw animal tracks and decided to follow them out of interest.
The newspaper said that they were arrested on Tuesday by rangers and then handed over to police in a move that shows the Zimbabwe authorities' apparent determination to clamp down on rhino poaching.
A white rhino was reported poached in the Matopos in May 2015. No rhinos were poached in the Matopos in 2014.
A rhino poacher was handed a record 35-year jail sentence by a magistrate in Masvingo on New Year's Eve in a move welcomed by conservationists.
The Lowveld Rhino Trust said the man, named by the press as Tawengwa Machona, was a "hard-core" poacher.

Monday 11 January 2016

World's Biggest Dam Has ‘Extremely Dangerous’ Low Water Levels

Water levels at Kariba dam, the world’s largest, are at “extremely dangerous” lows that could force a shutdown of its hydro power plants, said Zambian Energy Minister Dora Siliya.
Poor rainfall and overuse of water by Zambia and Zimbabwe, the southern African countries that share the reservoir, have caused its levels to drop, with electricity generation already reduced by more than half. As of Dec. 28, Kariba was 14 percent full, compared with 51 percent a year earlier, according to the dam’s regulator.
“The situation is dire,” Siliya told reporters Thursday in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. “I’m praying. We sit here and gaze at the sky and say, ‘please, the levels of Kariba are at extremely dangerous levels.’” A continued absence of rains could force the power plants to shut down altogether, she said.
Mining companies in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer have had to reduce their electricity use and buy expensive imports at a time when plunging metal prices have triggered the mothballing of some mines and more than 10,000 job cuts. Households and businesses endure power cuts as long as 14 hours a day. The cost of importing power and emergency generation could threaten the government’s 3.8 percent budget deficit target for 2016.

‘Most Vulnerable’

Zambia is the most vulnerable country in sub-Saharan Africa to the El Nino weather system, partly because of its dependence on hydro power for more than 95 percent of generation, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts including Oyinkansola Anubi said in a November note. Six of Zambia’s 10 provinces have received below-normal rainfall this wet season, Meteorological Department director Jacob Nkomoki said in comments broadcast on Lusaka-based Radio Phoenix Dec. 4.
Water flows in the Zambezi river that feeds Kariba on Dec. 28 were 27 percent lower than a year earlier when measured at the Victoria Falls, about 125 kilometers (78 miles) upstream from the dam, according to data from the Zambezi River Authority. At Chavuma, about 600 kilometers north-west and near the river’s source, flows had started to improve and were 23 percent higher on Dec. 28 than a year earlier.
Water levels at Kariba on the same date were 477.57 meters (1,567 feet) above sea level, barely exceeding the minimum of 475.50 meters for hydro power operations, according to the authority. The government will spend $1.2 billion to mitigate the power crisis, Siliya said.
The Zambian government has prepared for the possibility of halting generation at Kariba, Siliya said. The measures include setting up emergency thermal power plants due to produce 250 megawatts by early March, as well as a 200-megawatt power-ship to be docked off the coast of neighboring Mozambique, she said. A 300-megawatt coal power station is also expected to start operations by June.
The country’s power deficit would grow to 1,000 megawatts by the end of December 2015, about half of normal peak demand, Siliya told lawmakers in November. Kariba may have to shut down by October this year if rainfall is low and Zambia and Zimbabwe continue to overuse its water, she said at the time.
“Our contingency is to make sure that even if we have to shut down there must be power coming,” Siliya said Thursday. “God forbid where we should have a situation where we might say we have to shut them down because the water level is below the minimum recommended.”

Woman tragically mauled to death by lion at Victoria Falls

A lion in Victoria Falls mauled to death a 52- year-old woman on 9th January before feeding on her. The chief superintendent in Victoria Falls, Jairos Chiwona, confirmed the killing of Sarah Tshuma by a lion, which has since been shot dead.

“We confirm having received such a report of a woman who was killed by a lion early on 9th January, and our most sincere condolences go to the family and friends,” Chiwona said.

The attack took place at Sisonke Village in the Woodlands area that falls under Chief Mvuthu.
Violet Ngwenya, a neighbour and relative of the deceased, said the lions had been causing sleepless nights to villagers for the past few days. She said villagers were now sleeping outside their cattle kraals to safeguard livestock.

Ngwenya said the lions initially attacked a cattle kraal at around 7pm on Friday, 8th January at the same homestead, killing one ox.

“Villagers scared away the pride after the incident by banging empty containers and making fires in an effort to safeguard cattle and goats, but the lions kept coming,” she said. “Eventually we all agreed to go to sleep because it was already midnight but Tshuma refused, indicating that she wanted to watch over her beasts, and we left her. Around morning, one of the lionesses came back again and we suspect it charged on her as she was patrolling outside the kraal because we were awakened by her screams pleading for help.”

Ngwenya added: “We helplessly saw her being attacked but we couldn’t do anything. We contacted police and Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, but it was too late because immediately the lioness started feeding on her. It ripped open her stomach and other body parts until it was shot by the park rangers.”

Tendai Musasa, chairman of Woodlands Wildlife Conservancy said Woodlands Farm had a long history of human-animal conflict. He said a number of people had been attacked and injured by wild animals while others had been killed.

“Last year in February during President Robert Mugabe’s 91st birthday party, we shot and killed one elephant, which was a threat to the villagers as it would destroy crops in the fields,” Musasa said. “They tried to chase it away, but it would charge at them. People never reaped anything in their fields because of the elephant, and I saw it fit for rangers to gun it down even though it steered anger from conservationists, branding the pledge of the meat to the president as unethical.”

In the same area another villager, Given Ndlovu, survived by the skin of his teeth when he was attacked by a buffalo that left his intestines protruding.

Source: Woman tragically mauled to death by lion at Victoria Falls (11/01/16)

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Baboons a menace in Vic Falls

Victoria Falls  residents are living in fear as a troop of baboons have caused havoc by continuously raiding their homes for food. 

The troops of baboons are also said to have been causing problems for pupils during break time, especially at Baobab Primary School where they grab food from pupils in the play grounds.

Bulawayo based Sunday News said authorities at the school have had to enlist the services of a guard to keep the baboons away.

The baboons have reportedly become a menace to the extent that calls are getting loud for authorities to act on the problem before they maim residents.

The publication said baboon raids are more pronounced in the low density areas where they jump into houses through open windows despite the presence of people in the homes.

So grave is the situation that residents are scared to carry groceries in the open.

"It's now dangerous to carry groceries from the shops to our homes. They now lay an ambush for children and women carrying goods from town. We now fear their aggressive behaviour as they could soon injure people if they are not controlled," the paper quoted an unnamed female source.

Victoria Falls residents' association chairman Mr Morgan Gaza Dube blamed the issue on residents and tourists who feed the baboons.

"Victoria Falls is situated between two national parks Chamabondo and Zambezi and as such we live side by side with these wild animals. If you feed these baboons they behave like pets, next time they will come back to you to be fed.

"We have tourists around who when they see them feed them and that's when the problem starts," said Mr Dube.

"Once they do that if they see anyone carrying groceries they expect to be fed and they get that food at any cost. 

"The same happens when they raid houses as they would have seen people getting in there with the groceries. In Vic Falls we can't kill them but we have to co-exist with them unless if they become very aggressive. We will always protect our people from aggressive animals," he said.

Source: Baboons a menace in Vic Falls (03/01/16)