offshorebirder

Zimbabwe - to skip or not to skip

46 posts in this topic

@@offshorebirder - I agree with you completely that there are many wildlife destinations in Africa that are clamoring for both our money and our attention, and good for you if you can do your bit to help with Zakouma etc. Chad is lucky to have a far-sighted government that sees value in protecting its wildlife resources.

 

But such is not the case for many countries (African or otherwise) - even ostensibly democratic ones. If we were to use the relative corruption or authoritarian tendencies etc of a given government or head of state as the yardstick by which we measure our willingness to visit or skip a particular country's wildlife, then the number of countries that make the list would be pathetically small. You seem to be saying that some countries have more strikes against them than others - true- but honestly, if I were to do a side by side comparison of ZImbabwe with for instance, Tanzania (a hugely popular safari destination), I would be hard pressed to make Zim look any worse than Tanzania.

 

But my reason for jumping into this discussion was the fact that you objected so strongly to eles being killed for food in Zim - it sounded to me like this was perhaps the straw that broke the proverbial Zim camel's back for you? But in fact, one of the enduring justifications for hunting provided by the hunting fraternity is that they provide 'protein to poor villagers'. Look at any discussion of any ele hunt by SCI, Bob Parson, the Trump sons, the King of Spain and others - you'll always find this protein argument high on their list of why hunting is such a good thing for the poor communities that have to live with wildlife. Given this widespread acceptance of killing eles for food within the hunting community, the Zim policy of shooting for ration is neither illogical nor out of place.

 

I happen to believe that hunting itself is an anachronism in this day and age. In fact, I believe that hunting highly intelligent animals for their heads is much worse than an anachronism. But I will admit that my thinking is no longer as linear as it used to be on this subject.

 

When I see the decimation of the elephant population in what was until very recently the stronghold of the African elephant - the Selous Game Reserve in Tz - I am prepared to join hands with anyone to help stop the scourge of poaching. Even hunters. But this does not take away from the fact that the SGR has been under the so-called stewardship of the Tz government and of hunting companies for decades and both have proven that neither do they have the wherewithal to prevent this scale of poaching (hard to do that when influential people themselves are involved, I admit), and nor the conscience to stop hunting a population that has been so reduced and stressed by poaching.

 

Compare this to the Save Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. A hunting concession where the ele population has increased from the original 300 transplants when the conservancy was formed, to more than 3000 today. And at its wits end to somehow keep this wildlife and wilderness afloat and intact among land-grabs and all manner of intimidation and corruption.

 

I agree with you that things are never black and white, but the only point I am trying to make here is that Zimbabwe is not worse than many other places - in fact, in many respects, it is better.

 

 

 

Perhaps it is obvious, but I would like to draw a distinction between rich westerners who hunt for trophies and indigenous peoples who hunt for food.

Until we (non Africans) started prizing animals and their body parts as trophies there was little danger of them being hunted to extinction simply as a source of food.

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Until we (non Africans) started prizing animals and their body parts as trophies there was little danger of them being hunted to extinction simply as a source of food.

 

 

 

@@Soukous

 

Yes and no.

 

Various wildlife populations in North and West Africa were wiped out due to human expansion well before any white hunter had put his foot on the continent.

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Posted (edited)

I stand corrected @@Paolo.

Was that primarily due to hunting for food or due to loss of habitat to farming and settlement?

Edited by Soukous

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@@Soukous

 

A bit of both depending on locations. Also, both the West Africa empires and the Arabs were actively trading in ivory, even if obviously not to the magnitude seen later.

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Uganda and a certain madman + dictator named Idi Amin springs to mind...

 

OSB - you obviously missed the "gukurahundi".... and that it is black politicians that are squabbling over the hunting lodges and conservancies re-distributed by the government - trophy hunting is not the preserve of rich, white, westerners.

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@@bundu - not sure I understand your point in the last post. I never said trophy hunting was the preserve of rich white westerners...

 

What I was referring to with the Idi Amin + Uganda reference is that things also looked abysmal in Uganda not that long ago, but have improved remarkably since the madman's regime's departure (skyrocketing human population issues aside).

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Posted (edited)

Trophy hunters: you're right...I was just making a general comment re: some earlier posts.

 

As to your Idi comment - I thought you were foretelling doom for Zim rather than reporting an old'ish good news story....unless there's something I've missed?

 

My apologies for the misinterpretation of your comments.

 

Cheers

Edited by bundu

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You are right about Zim not being the only country to take our money while continuing to do maddening things. I have mentioned before it is sort of like their holding wildlife hostage and saying "pay up or else the wildlife you love gets it".

 

I agree completely. And sadly, many recent examples of this type of behavior come from the Maasai, both in Kenya and Tanzania, where they have taken to spearing eles and lions when angry with their local authorities for not receiving as much income as they had hoped for etc. Their complaints are sometimes justified, sometimes perhaps not so justified - but in any event, retaliatory attacks against wildlife to demonstrate anger against authorities is another very sad example of 'hostage holding'.

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Just read CR's post about that Zim politician wanting to kill 10 eles to jump start funding for a soccer stadium! Notwithstanding my defense of Zim, it is definitely looking worse than Tanzania today...

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Following this topic with interest, as I have a 3 week Zim safari planned for next year, my 5th to Southern Africa. Of further interest is the discussion re: Kiawah and the ACE Basin in South Carolina, as I lived in Charleston 1997 to 2007. That's where I became interested in birding, which soon developed into a broader fascination with all wildlife...and now my budget-busting African safaris!

 

It is a pleasure to read the well-informed, passionate and lively discourse on ST, particularly when opposing views are aired honestly, and with civility.

 

I have decided to spend my money on Zimbabwe because I suspect there are honest, hard-working people who have struggled to get through the worst of times there, and deserve help in their efforts to move forward....with tourism, conservation, and ultimately political empowerment. If that sounds too lofty or naive, so be it. For everyone it is a personal decision. And, @@graceland, @@offshorebirder...thanks for the updates and perspectives on the lovely Lowcountry. I look forward to my visit next month to that special part of the world.

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Following this topic with interest, as I have a 3 week Zim safari planned for next year, my 5th to Southern Africa. Of further interest is the discussion re: Kiawah and the ACE Basin in South Carolina, as I lived in Charleston 1997 to 2007. That's where I became interested in birding, which soon developed into a broader fascination with all wildlife...and now my budget-busting African safaris!

 

It is a pleasure to read the well-informed, passionate and lively discourse on ST, particularly when opposing views are aired honestly, and with civility.

 

I have decided to spend my money on Zimbabwe because I suspect there are honest, hard-working people who have struggled to get through the worst of times there, and deserve help in their efforts to move forward....with tourism, conservation, and ultimately political empowerment. If that sounds too lofty or naive, so be it. For everyone it is a personal decision. And, @@graceland, @@offshorebirder...thanks for the updates and perspectives on the lovely Lowcountry. I look forward to my visit next month to that special part of the world.

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@@panamaleo

 

I applaud your efforts and keeping an open mind that you are helping the fine people, wildlilfe; Zim's conservation efforts as always continue, and if the operators want to stay open even with the political situation, I am there for them.

 

So happy you are as well.

 

My feeling was they did not want to be associated with the politicians and their defiance is not to be bullied by the actions; and would do anything they could to continue their livelihoods.

 

Game Warden has an excellent interview with two of Zimbabwe's top guides.....Julian Brookstein and Craig van Zyl, having been guided by Craig and meeting Julian at Camp Hwange you could not find two finer examples of Zimbabwe guides, their passion for the wildlife and their country...I encourage you to read the two interviews.

 

(I tried to follow how to link the interviews, but maybe my brain doesnt work this early!!)

Will work on that after receiving some excellent advice from a St'r - I messed up along the way..

 

Anyway those interviews and of course recent trip reports should help you understand how the two are not related. I do not condone anything the Zim gov't is capable of inflicting, yet I fiercely feel the country itself should not be punished.

 

It was one of my most incredible safaris, and I know there are others here who repeat often.

 

I am sure everyone here would love to hear of your plans, the itinerary etc. and if you have any other experiences to share, all things Africa.

 

And the "low country" of course. Its' own special paradise has been endangered as well by overdevelopment; I hope that does not keep people away. Even though I since moved, I still stay involved with the efforts to keep the land and waters around Kiawah free of yet more " mcmansions." Need to save the birds and fish as well.

 

Have a great safari!

 

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Have fun in Zimbabwe, @@panamaleo. And do drop me a line when you're in the Lowcountry next month - my email address is offshorebirder@gmail.com

 

I would be happy to show you around some neat non-publicly-accessible places like the Yawkey Wildlife Center where I do weekly shorebird surveys and other research.

 

PS Since you admitted to 4 prior safaris to southern Africa, don't be surprised if @@Game Warden prods you to post trip reports! :-)

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I personally go to the country which has the wildlife and experiences that I desire. If ZIM appeals, go, if it doesn't, don't. Having a pack of dogs join us when we were standing around having sundowners was a pretty amazing experience though, as was sitting a mere 15 meters away from a pride of lions.

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people chose to go or avoid places for many reasons

 

Zimbabwe is not the only repressive place in Africa with corruption, bloody hunting and a mixed record with wildlife conservation

 

people have different perceptions as to political stability and the possibility of violence

 

it has certainly become less appealing for some people with exchange rate movements as they have USD pricing

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It was indeed a horrific event. I doubt that the culprit was over brought to justice.

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@@AmyT It may not be illegal,but to all of us it's certainly immoral. Conditions in Chinese zoos couldn't be worse.

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On 2/23/2017 at 7:08 PM, optig said:

@@AmyT It may not be illegal,but to all of us it's certainly immoral. Conditions in Chinese zoos couldn't be worse.

 

~ @optig

 

That's an understatement.

 

What one observes firsthand exceeds all terms for despair.

 

Tom K.

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