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Wednesday 18 December 2019

Victoria Falls outlines green tourism vision

VICTORIA Falls has a vision to become Africa’s green tourism destination hence the decision by tourism players in the resort town to adopt environmentally friendly policies.
The tourism players revealed this during a Press briefing here on Saturday where they called for collective involvement of business, civic groups, citizens and Government towards keeping the resort town in its pristine state. The Press conference was organised for Inyathi High School pupil Nkosilathi Nyathi (16) who was recently in Madrid, Spain where he represented Zimbabwe and Africa as an environment ambassador at the just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25).
Greenline Africa trustee, Ms Charlene Hewat, said the future of tourism depends on sound environmental policies.
“The vision is for Victoria Falls to be Africa’s greening destination hence we need to adopt mitigation measures through partnerships between business and communities,” she said.
While stakeholders stated that the Zambezi River was unlikely to dry up as portrayed by foreign media, they said serious mitigatory measures should be taken to keep the environment in its natural state in light of changes that are taking place because of climate change. Ms Hewat said recent reports about Vic Falls being dry had adversely affected tourism hence the need for pro-active measures.
“Victoria Falls is not dry. Zambezi is the oldest river in the world and will never dry up. The catchment area is already receiving rain and soon the river will start filling up. People should understand that it is seasonal and every year it dries up on the Zambian side. All we need to do is look at what we use so that no human activities affect the river flow,” she said. 
“Conservation agriculture is the way to go so that we help each other maintain our environment.”
An environmental-agricultural expect and Igugu Trust proprietor, Mrs Precious Phiri, who is Africa’s representative at Re-Generation International Global Network who also attended Cop25, called on policy makers to involve communities in environment management.
“Climate change is real and impacts on rainfall patterns, which then affects our tourism because it is flora and fauna based. If you note, deserts are advancing hence we need to engage communities around Victoria Falls so that they understand environmental issues,” she said. 
“Our policy making should involve communities because eco-tourism should start  with communities.”
Mrs Phiri said tourism should not just be consumeristic but productive and conservative such as engaging in projects like beekeeping, gardening and other waste management projects.
“Now it’s time to rethink agriculture because it’s no longer business as usual in light of climate change. We need regenerative agriculture with participation of Government, civic society and all citizens,” she said.
Nkosilathi, who did his primary education at Chamabondo in Victoria Falls, started environment work by posting videos to raise awareness on air pollution and waste management. He focused on air pollution in the coal mining town of Hwange and waste management in Victoria Falls. The two videos caught the attention of Greenline Africa and Unicef leading to his selection to represent the country at COP25 where he made a presentation about waste management activities in Zimbabwe.
Nkosilathi urged Government to involve youths in environment management programmes so that they grow up appreciating the importantce of protecting the environment. — @ncubeleon

Victoria Falls dries to a trickle after worst drought in a century

One of southern Africa’s biggest tourist attractions has seen an unprecedented decline this dry season, fuelling climate change fears

For decades Victoria Falls, where southern Africa’s Zambezi river cascades down 100 metres into a gash in the earth, have drawn millions of holidaymakers to Zimbabwe and Zambia for their stunning views.
But the worst drought in a century has slowed the waterfalls to a trickle, fuelling fears that climate change could kill one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions.
While they typically slow down during the dry season, officials said this year had brought an unprecedented decline in water levels.
“In previous years, when it gets dry, it’s not to this extent,” Dominic Nyambe, a seller of tourist handicrafts in his 30s, said outside his shop in Livingstone, on the Zambian side. “This [is] our first experience of seeing it like this.
“It affects us because ... clients ... can see on the internet [that the falls are low] ... We don’t have so many tourists.”

As world leaders gather in Madrid for the COP25 climate change conference to discuss ways to halt catastrophic warming caused by human-driven greenhouse gas emissions, southern Africa is already suffering some of its worst effects – with taps running dry and about 45 million people in need of food aid amid crop failures.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have suffered power cuts as they are heavily reliant on hydropower from plants at the Kariba dam, which is on the Zambezi river downstream of the waterfalls.
Stretches of this kilometre-long natural wonder are nothing but dry stone. Water flow is low in others.
Data from the Zambezi River Authority shows water flow at its lowest since 1995, and well under the long-term average. The Zambian president, Edgar Lungu, has called it “a stark reminder of what climate change is doing to our environment”.
Yet scientists are cautious about categorically blaming climate change. There is always seasonal variation in levels.
Harald Kling, a hydrologist at engineering firm Poyry and a Zambezi river expert, said climate science dealt in decades, not particular years, “so it’s sometimes difficult to say this is because of climate change because droughts have always occurred”.
“If they become more frequent, then you can start saying: OK, this may be climate change.”
He said early climate models had predicted more frequent dry years in the Zambezi basin, but that “what was surprising was that it [drought] has been so frequent” – the last drought was only three years ago. As the river got hotter, 437m cubic metres of water were evaporating every second.
In Livingstone this week, four tourists stared into a mostly dry chasm normally gushing with white water. German student Benjamin Konig was disappointed.
“Seems to be not much [water] – a few rocky stones with a little water between it,” he said.
Richard Beilfuss, head of the International Crane Foundation, who has studied the Zambezi for the past three decades, believed climate change was delaying the monsoon, “concentrating rain in bigger events, which are then much harder to store, and a much longer, excruciating dry season”.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Norwegian Tourist Loses Tooth, Valuables in Victoria Falls Robbery

A Norwegian tourist lost a front tooth after a suspected robber punched her on the face before fleeing into the bush with her handbag containing travel documents, Visa card and US$70 on Friday evening.
According to a report made to the police, Eva Katrine Alltras, aged 37, was in the company of a male counterpart believed to be her husband when the incident happened.
The couple was reportedly booked with Shearwater Adventures, a leading tour operator in Victoria Falls.
The robbery occurred near Three Monkeys Restaurant at the railway line as Alltras and the male partner walked past the railway line from town to Shearwater Explorer's Village lodge where they were booked.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Sergeant Namatirai Mashona said she was yet to get details of the attack.
However, according to the report made at Victoria Falls police station, Alltras suffered minor injuries and lost one tooth after the suspected thief punched her as she and the male partner attempted to wrestle her bag.
She also allegedly fell to the ground after the attack and sustained minor bruises on the hand.
The tourist was rushed to The Health Bridge private hospital where she was treated and discharged.
In a separate incident, another tourist (details not given) who was a client of the same operator lost a digital camera at Jafuta Game Reserve where he was doing wildlife research as part of his studies.
The suspect, Ronald Muzamba, aged 28 and residing at Woodlands Farm outside Victoria Falls town was arrested after game rangers tracked his footprints.
Muzamba was charged with theft when he appeared before Victoria Falls magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje fro allegedly stealing the digital camera valued at RTGS$2 000.
In his defence, Muzamba claimed he had picked the camera.
The magistrate sentenced him to 12 months in prison before suspending two months on condition of good behaviour.
The remaining 10 months were suspended on condition that he completed 315 hours of community service at Masuwe Primary School.
Prosecutors said the unnamed client had been using the digital camera which belonged to Shearwater as he was conducting a research.
Muzamba was tracked to Monde where he had gone to watch a boozers' soccer match.
A number of tourists have lost property in the country's prime tourist district of Hwange which covers Victoria Falls.
In October this year, a British couple Robert Talbort and wife Andrea Moxham Talbort lost two cannon cameras and two lances, a Sumsung mobile phone handset, a purse containing US$300, a canvas safari bag, sunglasses and make-up bag when two robbers broke into their tent in which they were sleeping.
The couple was on holiday and booked at Hides Safari Camp in Dete.
Management at the private lodge on the edge of Hwange National Park offered RTGS$16 000 to any person with information about the two suspected robbers.
The value of stolen property was 2 990 Pounds and US$300.
Source: Norwegian Tourist Loses Tooth, Valuables in Victoria Falls Robbery (08/12/19)

Thursday 5 December 2019

Elephants fitted with tracking collars as drought leads them to kill humans in Zambia

 Elephants in Zambia are being collared to try to combat the rising conflict between wildlife and humans in the country as both struggle to survive a particularly devastating drought.

The lack of rain has led to animals encroaching onto human territory to seek out food and water.

Elephants have been trampling crops, tearing down fences, and terrifying residents - injuring and killing them.

But they are not the only wildlife problem.

Crocodiles are lunging at people as both man and beast fight over the meagre amounts of water found in the bush.

And we spotted a hippo wandering around one of Livingstone's main roads for hours.

Hippos are among the most dangerous animals in Africa, killing several hundred people per year.

The desperation of the animals is matched by the increasing pressure on humans.

More than two million people in Zambia are estimated to be in need of emergency food help.

And across the border in Zimbabwe, another seven million have been identified as urgently needing aid.

In the Zambian border town of Livingstone, residents told Sky News of nightly visits by elephants, often in small groups, moving through the town foraging for food.

The residents have instigated nightly armed patrols to try to ward off the animals and keep them at bay.

The fences around the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park are trampled down by elephants in several places as the animals seek alternative ways of getting food and move into the nearby communities.

The elephants hustle around lodges and enter people's backyards to snaffle the mangoes growing there.

Petrified residents scream and throw stones, frightening the animals who then run at them, sometimes causing the injuries and there have been a few deaths.

"It's very dangerous for the human beings here," Gift Ngome told us. "We cannot stop them and it's easy for the elephant to kill people here."

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Zambia has been instrumental in developing fresh ideas to try to cut down the conflict between man and beast.

One idea is fitting the giant animals with collars and inbuilt GPS systems so their travel movements can be monitored.

Iris Van Der Meer, from WWF Zambia, said: "The collaring is a crucial component because the data we gather from the collared elephants shows us where the elephants are moving, which areas they're using and which corridors are in place outside of the national park."

By learning about the elephant movements, the conservationists hope to devise plans for more sustainable wildlife management - and avoid the rising clashes between humans and animals.

But there has to be more of a global strategy to try to tackle the challenge of annual water pressures which appear to be growing ever more acute.

Chief executive of WWF Zambia, Nachilala Nkombo, who was brought up in Livingstone, told Sky News: "We've seen a drastic reduction that's very scary and that tells me we are doing something wrong as a country.

"We are doing something wrong as a region and maybe doing something wrong globally and we need to do everything we can to reduce the carbon emissions to the minimum."

Source: Elephants fitted with tracking collars as drought leads them to kill humans in Zambia (04/12/19)