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South Africa bans leopard hunts due to uncertainty on numbers

For the first time in decades, hunters with deep pockets will not be able to shoot all of the “big five” game animals in South Africa after the government banned leopard hunts for the 2016 season.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) recommended the temporary ban because it said leopard numbers could not be firmly established.

“There is uncertainty about the numbers and this is not a permanent ban, but we need more information to guide quotas,” John Donaldson, SANBI’s director of research, said.

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Leopard is one of five game most desired by hunters, along with lion, rhino, buffalo and elephant. But given their secretive and nocturnal nature, the big cats are not easy to count.

SANBI said it drew its conclusions from studies and data mostly from protected areas and national parks, not private lands, leading the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) to say it gave an incomplete picture.

“There are lots of leopards on private land,” said PHASA chief executive Tharia Unwin, adding that PHASA was providing the government with leopard data from private lands.

South Africa has also suffered its worst drought on record and Unwin said this was good for leopard numbers, as predators typically thrive when the rains are poor, leaving much of their prey in a weakened and easy-to-kill state.

Unwin said it cost up to U$20,000 (£14,000) to shoot a leopard and several of PHASA’s members had to refund clients who had put down deposits for leopard hunts. Most foreign hunters who come to South Africa for such game are American.

Hunting all of the big five has been legal in South Africa since the 80s, when hunts for white rhino were resumed. South African environment minister Edna Molewa is a vocal advocate of the hunting industry, which the government estimates contributes 6.2bn rand ($410m) annually.

There was global outrage last year over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by a US dentist.

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Source: theguardian


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Tanzania’s government cautioned over spending conservation revenue

TANZANIA (eTN) – Wildlife and tourism stakeholders are skeptical about the Tanzanian government’s decision to abolish retention of funds, collected by wildlife conservation institutions, for other spending, saying the plan would kill the wildlife parks.

Conservationists from Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es salaam and the northern tourist city of Arusha saying that the government of Tanzania should stop meddling with conservation of wildlife by shelving retention of funds collected from tourists for other spending.

Comments from wildlife conservationists were aired after Tanzanian minister for Finance Mr. Phillip Mpango announced through the parliament a plan by his government to abolish retention scheme which allowed public institutions to bank the operational funds for own spending.

Under the new arrangement by the government of Tanzania, all public institutions, including the national parks, will be required to submit all park fee collections to the Ministry of Finance for retention under the central government control.

Conservationists fear that in this case the national parks and wild game reserves failing to execute their duties for lack adequate funding. Tanzania’s government had earlier allowed the wildlife conservation institutions to spend their own generated funds for strengthening anti-poaching operations.

Wildlife conservation institutions in Tanzania are the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) and Wildlife Division, which has been transformed to Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA).

Friends of wildlife conservation and tourist stakeholders have been worried to see the Tanzania’s government sucking the tourist fees, collected by wildlife parks, for other uses outside conservation activities.

An outspoken member of parliament Mr. Peter Serukamba warned the government over consequences ahead of its own decision to siphon funds from wildlife parks, a situation he said would kill the tourist parks through the lack of adequate funds for protecting the wildlife.

In Tanzania, all wildlife parks are managed by the government through the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, but operating freely through collection of park entry fees collected from visitors, concessions, hunting and other fees remitted by visitors and companies operating inside the parks.

On the other side, Tanzania depends on foreign support for wildlife conservation activities.

Tanzania National Parks is the leading and biggest wildlife conservation institution, commanding and managing 16 parks, which stand as the leading tourist attraction and the source of tourist revenues approaching US$2 billion from 1.2 million tourists, as per recent statistics.

Source: sustainabletourismalliance


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Nigerian tourism and challenge of insecurity

The fear of insecurity in the country has created a hole in the profit margin accruing to the tourism sector, which is why so much needs to be done and hurriedly too.

In 2014, the World Travel and Tourism Council calculated that tourism comprises of about 11 percent of the global GDP. The organisation also declared that the worth of expert of tourist provisions is nearly 6 to 7 percent of complete exports of services and goofs. Assessment has it that tourism industry hires nearly 6 percent of the global professional population staff includes railway employees, travel agents, airline employees, taxi workers, hotel employees, bank personnel, insurances, tour or travel guides, vendors, photographers, life savers, potters, as well as individual in control of locations visited by tourists like art, museums, shops, galleries, parts and theatres. Therefore, tourism is a function that cuts across the majority of the economic activity of a country.

Counting the many blessings of tourism in the recent years, there has been improvement in the protection of Nigerian culture, tradition and historical legacy. The significance of tourism development thus in protecting both natural and manmade context cannot be over-estimated especially in the preservation and protection of several historic, archaeological and cultural destinations from destruction due to its positive utilization in such areas. The several natural resources such as national games and parks resources are instances of such positive utilization. Tourism has expanded the country’s economic baseline and assets of foreign exchange through the development of global tourism and made more employment options to accept an ever raising work force.

However, the security situation in the country is dashing the gains of tourism to pieces presently.

In her journal, tourism scholar and enthusiast, Mojúbàolú Olufunke mentions that

“The Boko Haram sect has infused so much fear and anxiety on the legal enforcement agents and institutions of Nigeria. In reality, relocating to the northern area of the state has become abhorrence to, particularly members of the police force from the southern region of Nigeria going by the persistent killing and assaults conducted by members of this group who are sternly averse to all forms and nature of education or civilization”

In a recent interview with the Conservator- General of the National Park Service (NPS), Haruna Tanko, he decried the level of insecurity and infrastructure which is responsible for the deficit in revenue.

“The NPS currently operates seven national parks across the country covering a land area of 24, 000 square kilometers. The National Park Service has been playing a crucial role in intelligence gathering for the country’s military in the Northeast and the forest bothering Chad and Cameroun,

“Since we have been upgraded to a para- military agency by the President, we have been working closely with other security outfits as well as have a joint border patrol.

“National parks are located in the rural areas and mostly in the borders between Nigeria and other African countries. In most cases, when there are cases of insecurity, especially coming from those areas, there is always collaboration between us (and other agencies in terms of patrolling the areas.

He regretted that insecurity and infrastructure deficit have been a challenge to maximizing the potentials of the Parks, “The Park realised thirty-two million naira as against the forty seven million naira, he added.

Furthermore, Mr. Tomi Akingbogun, Vice President, Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN), has ascribed the drop in the influx of tourists to the country to the ineffective management of the county’s image, adding that the increase in bills; insecurity and other economic challenges made visits to tourist sites in the country difficult.

“The government is not giving the right attention to development of tourism. Dubai works on tourism, Kenya, South Africa; see how many billions they are making; why are we allowing Nigeria to just go down.

He explained that if there was no movement of tourists within the country, there would be no influx of tourists from outside the country, a situation, which he said, had undermined Nigeria’s ranking as a tourist destination.

However, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, the Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation argues that Nigeria is not the only country that is dealing with terrorism or insecurity, it is a global issue.

“It’s a global issue. Our job is to create awareness, to let people know where is safe and not safe. There will be tourism police and guard. For example look at South- West, South-West is safe, tourism industry is booming, Lagos is doing very well and all the others as well as other Geo-political zones so security is not a barrier.

Supporting Mrs. Mbanefo’s claim, Mrs. Sola Olumeko, said that there is no place that is actually free of vices

“There is no place that is actually free of vices. So for our tourism industry to thrive, we should focus more on positive than negative reports that will scare tourists away”.

“Other countries have excelled in tourism because they don’t look at their bad sides, they look at the good sides of their country and that should be our orientation in Nigeria as well”. She added emphatically, “Security is a very sensitive issue in tourism; I would rather prefer you talk about tourism and the potentials of what we have that can attract tourists which can also help to enhance our own image. I don’t think it is only Nigeria that has security challenge, it is all over the world”.

Throwing more light on what can be done to convince people that Nigeria is still safe and secure for tourists visiting the country, the Director of Tourism described Nigerians as warm and hospitable people who accommodate any tribe or foreigner, no matter the religion. She discloses further on cultural diversity and tourist sites that can attract foreigners to the country.

“Nigeria comprises 36 states with diverse cultures and big festivals that are internationally-recognised. We also have interesting sites to visit like Obudu Ranch Resort, Tinapa and various artefacts. The civil servant agreed though that the country should focus more on providing necessary infrastructural facilities.

However, Mr Boris Bornman, the General Manager, Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers argued further that there is no guarantee for safety in the country as lots of people abroad see the country like the old Soviet, where many believe that there is an iron curtain and until that curtain of insecurity is removed, people won’t come.

“Without doubt, the more violent the situation gets, the more people will stay away from Abuja and Nigeria at large. Do not forget that Nigeria is not a tourist destination yet, but a business market. Again, in spite of the huge potentials of Nigeria’s cultural tourism that can attract tourists, they will all stay away because of insecurity. As I speak with you, lots of people abroad see the country like the old Soviet, where many believe that there is an iron curtain and until that curtain of insecurity is removed, people won’t come.

“To be honest with you, we now have to spend more money on security than ever before in the history of our operations. We have to import detective equipment, spend extra money on CCTV cameras, and the list goes on and on in other to provide at least minimum security for our guests.

“Regrettably, Nigeria is a beautiful country and you have wonderful things that people want to see, but the fear of insecurity and violent keeps people away. Imagine Zimbabwe with the entire international political buzz, tourists from UK and around Europe still go there. Zambia and their likes too also have a fair share of international arrivals because they have been able to guarantee safety of visitors to their countries.

He added that in those countries, tourism accounts for between 15-20 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product [GDP] and the tourists’ dollars spent in their countries matters.

“Like you know too, it’s not compulsory that the entire country is promoted as tourist zone, but those sections that can be promoted be done because Nigeria has some unique cultures that most people around the world have not seen and they would want to see such.”

Two-minute guide to responsible tourism in South Africa

With easy access to its National Parks, fantastic roads, stylish cities, enticing cuisine and vibrant culture, South Africa is accessible Africa; a destination for families, first-timers and the less fearless.

Best known for the wildlife which wanders its vast parks and conservancies, it can be easy to consider a holiday to South Africa as simply a chance to tick off the ‘Big Five’ from a safari bucketlist. However we shouldn’t ignore the people, history and heritage which make this the real Rainbow Nation. Responsibletravel.com’s 2-minute guide to South Africa argues that for a truly authentic South African experience its culture shouldn’t just be a safari afterthought.

While South Africa may not have the ‘cliched’ tribal experiences found in other countries in Africa – for example encounters with the Himba in Namibia, or walks with the Maasai in Kenya – what it does have are far more real and accessible opportunities for tourists to really connect with culture, through music, delicious street food, festivals and art fairs, without the need for contrived tours.

South Africa’s townships are home to many millions of its residents, of all cultural backgrounds, and provide a real insight into modern South African life. Although these tours can be controversial, especially when tourists drive through, shooting pictures and giving nothing in return; when locally run, using local guides and with regular stops to visit markets, craftsmen and local shebeens these tours give some of South Africa’s poorest communities the chance to promote their heritage, generate income for their families and develop much-needed community initiatives.

Uthando, in Cape Town is a great example of people-led tourism products leading to genuine, grassroots development projects, and Durban’s Langa Township is now part of the city’s Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus Tours; a result of ongoing social enterprise developments around local jazz, heritage, arts culture and food.

South Africa’s very troubled recent history shapes the lives of everyone tourists will meet in the country, and to really understand the present day South Africa, tourists have to make the effort to learn more about its complex past. The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a must-visit, yet moving place to put this history into the context of everyday South Africans.

Not solely a tourist museum, it also serves as a powerful place of peace and reconciliation. In its own words: “The museum is a beacon of hope showing the world how South Africa is coming to terms with its oppressive past and working towards a future that all South Africans can call their own.”

With such an array of cultures to explore it is possible to have the holiday of a lifetime in South Africa without seeing one wild animal. Which, of course, would be a real shame. So rather than trying to touch every colour of the Rainbow Nation, try instead to become immersed in just one or two places which will give you a balance of heritage and natural history, culture and wildlife.

KwaZulu-Natal, for example, tucked away in the east of the country is an ideal destination for authentic adventures and yet often overlooked for the more famous Garden Route or Kruger National Park. The customs and beliefs of Zulu culture underpin daily life here. Learning how the past has shaped the present, tourists can take informative tours of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu battlefields at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift with a local guide, before staying in a traditional Zulu homestead or ‘Umuzi’, offering homestay experiences for visitors. This is a unique, immersive way to understand the importance traditional tribal cultures have in modern South Africa away from more contrived tourist cultural shows.

KwaZulu-Natal also has world-class wildlife, and the sought-after ‘Big Five’ in abundance. Many reserves are doing key conservation work, including Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, where anti-poaching initiatives were successful in bringing back the white rhino from the brink of extinction in the 1950s. And with rhino (and other species) numbers continuing to be threatened, ensuring that a South Africa holiday supports key conservation efforts is vitally important.

Source: Travel Mole