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Thursday 30 November 2017

Chundu Island Opens Under Seolo Africa Banner

 The much anticipated opening of one of Zimbabwe’s premier private island lodges, Chundu Island, has arrived. Proud owners, Seolo Africa, who you may know from their already well-respected lodges, Rhino Walking Safaris and Rhino Post Safari Lodge, welcomed their first guests this past week; with both staff, wildlife and the intrepid explorers themselves rising to the occasion.

Chundu Island, located in the breathtakingly beautiful upper Zambezi River, a mere 20km upstream from the magnificent Victoria Falls is, without doubt, one of the most attractive islands in the region.  The island offers 1.4 km of raw, natural beauty, culminating in a white soft sandy beach on the western-most tip of the island.

Chundu Island boasts six suites and two family suites overlooking the Zambezi River, each with an extensive private deck, shaded by magnificent trees on the shoreline. En-suite bathrooms complete the privacy with free-standing baths and luxurious finishes.

Chundu Island offers guests a wide range of activities; including but not limited to, 4X4 Safaris in the Zambezi National Park, sunset cruise along the Zambezi with elephant and hippo sightings, island walks, canoeing along the Zambezi, and ultimately, day tours to the magnificent Victoria Falls.

Source: Chundu Island Opens Under Seolo Africa Banner (November 2017)

Sunday 26 November 2017

Elephant killed in Livingstone

Officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife have gunned down an elephant after it charged at an electrician who was fixing an electric fence at a named lodge in Livingstone.
National Parks Senior Area Warden, Lewis Daka, says the elephant was gunned down as a control measure to save human lives.
Mr. Daka has however appealed to residents, cross border traders and tourists to take precautions whenever they walk through the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park.
He says officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife cannot be everywhere at the same time, hence the need for individuals to be alert at all times.
Meanwhile, the number of people killed by elephants in Livingstone, this month, has risen to four after another person was killed near Simoonga area, last week.
Earlier this month, a security guard and two tourists were killed by elephants in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

14 elephants found dead, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is investigating a matter of 14 elephants found dead on Friday in Victoria Falls,13 of which were killed 9 months ago.

Sources close to investigations allege members of Zambezi camp rangers were on patrol in Zambezi National Park where they found 13 elephant carcasses fully decomposed and one elephant killed three days after.

"We are investigating a case of poaching in Matebeland North were 14 elephants were killed and the carcasses were found in Kazungula airstrip about 3km off road by game rangers, said the source.

" All the elephant carcasses are valued at 700 000, in total five (5) tusks were recovered weighing 50.5kg altogether and valued at $512 625.

"Thirteen of the elephant are suspected to have been given cyanide in fruits while the other is suspected to have died naturally.

"Thus tasks were sent to Zambezi camp for safe keeping.

"Investigations are underway at ZRP Victoria Falls under RRB number 3362074."

Meanwhile, according to Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife records elephant poaching is on the increase in Matebeland North, in October 13 poisoned by cyanide outside Victoria Falls in Fuller Forest and Chikandakubi area.

Source: 14 elephants found dead, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (20/11/17)

More: Elephant poisoning pair acquitted (23/11/17)

Friday 17 November 2017

Zimbabwe on high alert for earthquakes

ZIMBABWE is on high alert for earthquakes caused by climate change as the country has been increasingly experiencing earth tremors, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Speaking during the 2018 Parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls last Friday, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said earthquakes were more pronounced in the Zambezi Valley.

"Zimbabwe is being revisited regularly by seismic disasters (earthquakes). We have had 50 seismic disasters so far since last year and we need our scientists to begin looking into these issues so that we are able to come up with policies to advise on how dams and even buildings would be constructed.

"In the past, earthquakes were not a concern but now regularly we are experiencing these in the Zambezi Valley. There is a possibility that these seismic disasters can be of high magnitude destroying infrastructure and causing deaths," she said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said earthquakes were mostly predominant when the level of water in the Kariba Dam is low and very high.

"So we want to advise particularly on Batoka as we construct Batoka what are the measures that we take so that we don't lose lives and infrastructure like our major dams," she said.

Zimbabwe and Zambia have proposed the construction of the $4 billion Batoka Hydro-electric power plant along the Zambezi River and it is envisaged to produce 1 600 megawatts.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said in the 2017/18 weather forecast, the country expects normal to above normal rains culminating in high inflows into dams as well as high discharge of ground water with chances of flooding.

Like Zimbabwe experienced in the 2016/17 season, she said, chances of flooding were predictable in the upcoming season.

She said the country needs to strengthen its early warning systems in low-lying areas such as Tsholotsho, Malipati, Gokwe, Muzarabani, Middle Sabi and Chicuala-cuala.

"Bearing in mind this potential disastrous situation we are faced with, my ministry has seen the need to vigorously pursue an ambitious water harvesting programme to improve the lives of people at grassroots level to ensure that we don't run dry," said Muchinguri-Kashiri.

She said her Ministry strongly believes the country requires radar systems to advice on disasters.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said it was imperative for Government to adapt to climate change by setting aside funding to mitigate the adverse effects of earthquakes.

"While we appreciate the challenges that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is experiencing, over and above even under very difficult circumstances we have successfully secured some funds and sometimes mitigated disasters," she said.

Source: Zimbabwe on high alert for earthquakes (13/11/17)

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Victoria Falls residents demand revenue from Rainforest (Zimbabwe)

Chronicle Reporters

VICTORIA Falls residents have petitioned Parliament demanding to retain 30 percent of revenue generated from the Rainforest and related parks fees charged at various tour activities to develop local schools, clinics and libraries.

A resident, Mr Godfrey Dube, who led the initiative, handed the petition on behalf of residents to the Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, on Thursday last week on the sidelines of the just ended Parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls. About 600 residents signed the petition.

“This is not a political move but an idea generally spearheaded by concerned residents. We handed the petition to the office of the Speaker of Parliament (Adv Mudenda) on Thursday after gathering about 600 signatures. People want at least 30 percent of gate takings at the Rainforest and from rafting, game drives and bungee jumping where clients pay parks fees,” said Mr Dube.

He said residents also want minors below the age of 15 and the elderly above 65 years to be allowed free entry into the rainforest.

Residents allege that 75 percent of children in the resort town have never visited the Rainforest as they cannot afford entrance fees.

The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority manages the Rainforest and also collects parks fees from rafting and game drives clients.

Locals pay $7 and $4 each for adults and children respectively while tourists from the Sadc region pay $20.

International tourists pay $30 per individual.

Parks fees range between $10 and $15 depending on the activity. On average 250 000 tourists, 75 percent of them foreign, visit the Rainforest annually.

Mr Dube said they will follow-up on the petition through the local Member of Parliament for Hwange West, Cde Bekithemba Mpofu next week.

The petition, addressed to the Clerk of Parliament and copied to the Minister of Finance, chairperson of the National Budget Committee, Minister of State for Matabeleland North province, Victoria Falls Town Clerk and the Victoria Falls Residents Association read in part:

“As a follow-up to the national budget consultative meeting held at Chinotimba Hall in September 2017 whereby as residents we submitted that we be allocated 30 percent of the total gate takings at gross value from the Rainforest and park fees within our radius, we are hereby cementing our final demand as residents and villagers within this area.

“It’s a fact that government through Zimparks is making a lot of money from our God given resources without locals benefiting anything hence we demand that our local children below the age of 15 and elderly above 65 years be afforded free entrance to the Rainforest as long as they can provide proof”.

Residents want the 30 percent in line with the Community Share Ownership Trust scheme introduced by President Mugabe in 2012.

In a recent interview, Victoria Falls Town Clerk Mr Ronnie Dube said the municipality was engaging authorities over the issue.

“It’s absolutely true that the Rainforest is what makes Victoria Falls and it is part of our natural heritage as locals hence it makes a lot of sense that local people should benefit out of the economic royalties,” he said.

“Victoria Falls Rainforest is our only resource since we don’t have gold or diamonds. We wish government could give an ear to our plea for a share”.


Source: Victoria Falls residents demand revenue from Rainforest (Zimbabwe) (14/11/17)

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Kazungula Pontoon Succumbs To Overloaded Truck

The Kazungula Pontoon, a popular mode of border transport between Zambia and Botswana, on Monday morning succumbed to what appeared to be an overloaded freight-liner.
According to eyewitness, the pontoon failed to sustain the weight of the truck which was reportedly overloaded with assorted goods.

There was no fatality recorded, but it feared that the pontoon may be out of service for a long period.

Monday 13 November 2017

Livingstone tour operators oppose spin wheel project at Vic Falls

LIVINGSTONE tour operators have wondered what is special about Chinese investor Ju Wenbin for him to be given land in the Victoria Falls area for the construction of a Ferris Wheel similar to that at Disneyland.
And staff at the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) have challenged their executive director Collins Chipote to tell the nation the truth behind the Chinese investor’s plans to build the Spin-Sational Ferris wheel at Zambia’s only World Heritage Site.
In an interview, Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) chairperson Alexander Mutali said there was plenty of land within and outside the tourist capital where Ju Wenbin, the chief executive officer of China-Africa Cotton Development Limited could build the Ferris wheel instead of the Victoria Falls.
“We met with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Arts and Tourism (Liya Mutale) and informed her that we don’t want the Victoria Falls to be de-registered as a World Heritage Site. In as much as we welcome investors, we don’t want posterity to come and judge us harshly, we don’t want them to blame us for having sold their land. We actually asked how special this Chinese investor was to be given land in the Victoria Falls,”
Mutali said.
He said the operators gave Mutale options where the Chinese investor could be given land for the wheel such as near the United Air Charter’s Baobab ridge and also an area in the Musi-oa-Tunya National Park. Mutali, who is the immediate past president of the Tourism Council of Zambia, added that the government must be seen to protect the Victoria Falls which was the country’s only World Heritage Site (WHS).
“We need to keep the Victoria Falls very natural as required by UNESCO. I know that we don’t have money but we have to be careful in the manner we do things that border on international relations noting that the site is a shared World Heritage [Site] with Zimbabwe,” said Mutali.
And NHCC staff at the Victoria Falls have challenged Chipote to inform the nation how much he knows about the Ferris wheel issue instead of shifting blame to the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
“In as far as we are concerned, we have a say on allocating land, and our executive director knows a lot. As far as we are concerned, he must have told the minister that it was okay to give the curio traders’ space to the Chinese investor instead of guiding the ministry to otherwise quote UNESCO statutes that govern the WHS,” the workers said anonymously.
The workers added that the government, through the instigations of Chipote must be fighting to have more sites in Zambia registered on UNESCO’s WHS list instead of having the only site the country has being threatened with de-registration.
“Zimbabwe will not let us go this. They have the Mana Pool National Park, the Great Zimbabwe National Monument, Khami Ruins National Monument, the Matopo Hills and the Victoria Falls as WHS, so why not fight to have the Barotes Plains and the Kalambo Falls declared WHS instead of losing the only egg we have in the Victoria Falls. This is poor management and abuse of natural resources at the highest order,”
the NHCC staff said.
Last week, Chipote declined to comment over the planned developments at the falls and referred all queries to the Ministry of Tourism. “That you can confirm with the ministry. I may not be the best person to respond to that. Get in touch with the ministry,” said Chipote.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Elephant tramples two tourists to death in Livingstone, Zambia

Source: ZNTC
Two foreign tourists have been trampled by an elephant at Maramba River lodge in Livingstone. The incident happened around 17 hours on Saturday.
Senior Wildlife Warden Southern Region Lewis Daka has told ZNBC news that Van Griensven 61 from Holland and Sabine Elfride 57 from Belgium met their fate as they were watching elephants that went within the vicinity of the lodge.
Mr. Daka says the lady allegedly went very close to the elephant to get pictures something that made the elephant agitated and charge at her.
Mr. Daka says Mr. Griensven tried to save the lady and in the process the elephant also charged and trampled on him.
He says his department regrets the death of the two tourists and has appealed to lodge owners to provide guides to tourists who visit their lodges.
Mr. Daka says tourists must not be allowed to get too close to the animals like elephants because they are wild and dangerous.
There is an influx of elephants in Livingstone and Mosi-o-tunya National Park.
Just last week, another elephant trampled on a security officer from one of the lodges in Livingstone on his way to work.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Zim to oppose Zambia’s plan for a spin wheel at Vic Falls

THE Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management says it will declare “tourism war” against Zambia over its plans to allow a Chinese investor to put up a spin wheel at the Victoria Falls against UNESCO standards governing World Heritage Sites.
And former National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) executive director Nicolas Katanekwa says the development proposals at the Victoria Falls through the construction of a Spin-Sational Ferris Wheel similar to that at Disneyland by a Chinese investor Ju Wenbin, the chief executive officer of China-Africa Cotton Development Limited, will spell an end to tourism in Livingstone.
A Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZNPWMA) official in Victoria Falls town, who spoke anonymously as they were not authorized to give interviews to the press, said Zambia should not tamper with the Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (WHS).
“Our superiors in Harare have said they will not sit idle and see the Victoria Falls getting deregistered as a WHS. They have informed us that we need to be ready for ‘war’ against Zambia, it’s going to be a tough tourism war and Zambia is bound to lose,” the wildlife official
He said Zimbabwe was not ready to lose the Victoria Falls heritage status due to Chinese developments which would be against UNESCO regulations.
“In 1989, UNESCO declared the Victoria Falls a WHS, bringing the number of WHS’s in Zimbabwe to three after the Matopo Hills and the Zimbabwe Ruins. The falls is a shared WHS with Zambia. Mind you, Zambia has only one WHS which is the Victoria Falls, so the government must tread carefully whenever thinking of developments at the site,” said the Zimbabwean official.
And Katanekwa said the Victoria Falls Eastern Cataract was a gazetted National Monument which needed strict protection.
“A National Monument can’t be sold unless it is de-gazetted; after all, it is also a National Park and a World Heritage Site. I remember during my era that Sun Hotels wanted to build an 2but UNESCO refused this proposal, so any developments such as that of a wheel can only take place if the Victoria Falls is removed from the World Heritage list and Zambia, through parliament, de-gazettes the Eastern Cataract National Monument,” Katanekwa said.
He added that he supported chief Mukuni’s views over the Victoria Falls and appealed to the PF government to listen.
“You can’t sell a National Monument to an individual, that proposal is unacceptable,” said Katanekwa. “The Eastern Cataract National Monument has a lot of historical items there dating a thousand years back and that should not be threatened by massive developments such as that of constructing a wheel. If this goes on, we risk the Victoria Falls being de-listed from the World Heritage Site list by UNESCO.”

Saturday 4 November 2017

Zambia sells land near Victoria Falls for Chinese to erect observation ferris wheel

A Chinese investor is set to build a spin wheel at the Victoria Falls after buying off land where the Mukuni curio traders conduct business.

And Victoria Falls Mukuni Curio Traders Association chairperson Fabian Siazibola has confirmed being approached by representatives of the Chinese investor who told them that traders will have to vacate the premises in readiness for the wheel construction.

However, tourism minister Charles Banda says he is not aware that a Chinese investor has been give land at the Victoria Falls but confirmed that some investors had made application for the land in question. Government sources have revealed that part of the Victoria Falls would be run by the Chinese who will put up a play park similar to Disneyland.

The Chinese investor has since been given permission to remove traders from the site to pave way for construction works.

“We have been instructed to give land at the Victoria Falls by the government. The instructions were sent to the Ministry of Tourism from State House. The named Chinese investor (Ju Wenbin) the CEO of China-Africa Cotton Development Limited was even taken on a conducted tour of the Vic Falls accompanied by some directors in the Ministry of Tourism recently,” the source said.

The source added that the Department of Wildlife and Zambia Environmental Management Agency had not been involved in the land allocation which would have required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in normal circumstances.

“We informed the government about the dangers of this development with UNESCO, but it seems the PF leadership is in a compromised situation,” the source added.

When reached for a comment, National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) director Collins Chipote said he was not the best person to give an answer on the issue.

“That you can confirm with the ministry, I may not be the best person to respond to that. Get in touch with the ministry,” said Chipote despite him heading an institution that in charge of heritage sites such as the Victoria Falls.

And Siazibola said the traders would never allow the Chinese to put up the wheel with or without government’s permission.

“Over our dead bodies, we will never allow this to happen. The Victoria Falls is our sacred land as a people of Mukuni village; it is a shrine to us…and it is not for sale even to the highest bidder. We have three shrines here and we will protect them with our lives. Let them take the wheel to the Northern Circuit. I will not be surprised that the PF government will sale Zambia to the Chinese tomorrow,”
Siazibola said.

He said the Chinese investor was likely to take over the management of the Victoria Falls just like what happened to ZNBC through Top Star.

“We the people of Mukuni village will never allow the Falls to be sold…we also hear that the PF has placed the Kafue National Park for sale. For God’s sake, the PF should slowdown on this reckless path of selling Zambia. Anyway, we know that just like Michael Sata reversed RB’s deals, the next government will have a big job to deal with the PF corruption,” said Siazibola.

The Victoria Falls is Zambia’s only World Heritage Site shared with Zimbabwe and UNESCO does not allow any developmental projects that impede the beauty of the site.

A Hungarian investor who had planned to put up a hot air balloon near the Zesco power station was stopped by NHCC a couple of years ago despite having commenced the construction program.

And a hotel project near the old Maramba Cultural Village was also stopped soon after then Republican vice-president Lupando Mwape had laid a foundation stone at the site.

When contacted, Banda said he was not aware that land at the Victoria Falls had been given out, adding that State House had no mandate to allocate land but the Ministry of Lands.

He, however, confirmed that there were applications from some investors for the Victoria Falls land. Asked if a Chinese investor has been allocated land at the site, Banda said he would not be in a position to know.

“I am not aware, at the moment I don’t know who has been given land but applications are there. If anybody has been given, the Ministry of Lands will be able to know. Not State House or my ministry, land is only allocated by the Ministry of Lands,” said Banda.

State House spokesperson Amos Chanda was constantly busy when phoned for a comment while the Commissioner of Lands was reportedly out of office and his mobile phone was switched off by press time.

Elephant kills man (Livingstone, Zambia)

An elephant has killed a United Air Charter Zambia Limited security guard in the Mosi-o-Tunya national park in Livingstone.
The man identified as Mulyata Nyumbu aged between fifty and fifty-five was killed by the elephant as he was cycling to work at about 17:00 hours yesterday.
An eye witness, also security guard, told a ZNBC news crew that rushed to the scene that Nyumbu was meters ahead of him cycling when the elephant charged.
Linus Mponda says Nyumbu saw the animal at close range and dropped from the bicycle and ran into the bush but the elephant caught up with him and thereafter Mponda only saw a cloud of dust as the elephant tossed the man in the air several times.
And Department of National Parks and Wildlife Senior Area Warden Lewis Daka who was found at the scene of the attack expressed sadness at the loss of life.
He has however advised companies within the vicinity of the national park to provide suitable transport for their employees to avoid such incidents.
Mr. Daka said walking or cycling in the park especially at this time of the year when the Mosi-o-Tunya national park has a lot of elephants is risky.
But Ronald Mwiinga, a manager at United Air Charter Zambia Limited where Nyumbu used to work said the company provides transport but some employees prefer to cycle to work.
Mr. Mwiinga said the company will with immediate effect ban employees walking or cycling to work through the park to avoid a repeat of the misfortune.
Source: Elephant kills man (Livingstone, Zambia) [03/11/17]