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General News - January 2010

General News - January 2010

Presentation on "Rediscovering Zimbabwe" - 19 January 2010

Presentation on "Rediscovering Zimbabwe"
19 January 2010

Meet the Experts Theatre...

A presentation and discussion on "Rediscovering Zimbabwe"

Destinations Show, Earls Court 1, London

Friday 5 February in Theatre 2 from 11:00 to 11:30.

"With diverse habitats and outstanding wildlife resources, a conservation record second to none and the home and training ground to Africa’s top professional guides, Zimbabwe was recognised as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations in 1999. The country has been dominated by bad politics for a decade and much has been laid to ruin.

There are signs of change driven by a sense of guarded optimism that political change is going to happen before long. The economy has turned visibly in the last year, conservation projects are being revitalised, lodge owners and safari operators are preparing the ground for recovery in the next few years. Questions remain unanswered.

How safe is Zimbabwe? How bad is the poaching? Who really benefits from visitor revenue? With travel warnings lifted, doors open to the media and travellers welcome as always

John Berry, MD of Zambezi Safari & Travel Company presents a case for visiting Zimbabwe to find out the truth and explore some old and familiar landmarks. If a tour of the traditional safari circuit to include Victoria Falls, Hwange, Matusadona, Mana Pools or an exploration of some less travelled spots in the east and south can’t be justified then Zimbabwe’s conservationists could do with the support.

Change is coming and 2010 is the year to start rediscovering Zimbabwe. You’ll be welcomed by resilient people with warm smiles." A lively presentation - not to be missed! 



Mana Pools National Park news - 18 January 2010

Mana Pools National Park news
18 January 2010

As the sun set on the year 2009, the blue moon rose in all its solar-reflected glory in the east. It’s spectacular and partially eclipsed appearance on New Year’s Eve did much to silence some of the lingering and discordant notes of the year past. Global warming, financial crises and fallen golf idols were relegated to the shadows of our minds as for a moment in time we were bathed in nature’s brilliance. Even Stretch, who has seen many moons and howled at a few, had to agree that this one was special. Hopefully it’ll continue to symbolically shine down on us all in general and Mana in particular.

We certainly look set for another great season. The rains have set in and although not as prolific or protracted as last year, they’ve been sufficient to coax and nurture every seed to maturity, covering the floodplain with a dense and verdant carpet. The cassia and indigophra will soon be knee-high to Stretch and waist-high to you and I. The mahoganys have taken over the podding fest whilst the albidas rest in anticipation of their lonely and arduous end of season duties. From elephants to impala they are their only sustenance in the dry times.

Our visit to the park in December gladdened our hearts. Hundreds of newly hatched impala lambs were the golden highlights, the one surviving Nyamepi cub seemed in good health and our favourite elephant bull Slot and his cohorts were still hanging about. The freshly painted dogs, now a healthy pack of twenty-one lounged around next to the road, the new big lion pride stretched out at Mana Mouth and all seemed right in the Mana milieu. Bruce was still guarding the channel in front of camp and greeted us with a chorus of grunts. Stretch laughed in reply.

The transformation of the park at this time of year never ceases to amaze us. At the end of October the parched floodplain greets every sunset with a sigh of relief, and the earth being the mother that she is, seems to stretch her arms up to the sky in a vain attempt to gather up the wispy clouds.

November however brings with it an annual sense of rejuvenation. A dark sky in the north and the provocative essence of an approaching thunderstorm stirs all primal hearts. The antelope drop their young with military precision and the predators realize their hunting tactics must change. Paradoxically, the metre high ground cover helps them with the element of surprise whilst also helping nurture the alertness of their prey. No longer weakened by the incessant heat and lack of nourishment the antelope are now no sitting buck.

January through to April is a time of plenty. Plenty of grass and water and plenty of insects!

The big elephant and buffalo herds are no longer reliant on the river and perhaps needing a change of scenery head inland to the pans, leaving the old bulls behind. Conversely, the predators stay mainly on the plain - the lion sits at the head of the floodplain feeding table, swiping a paw at any wandering mitts whilst the leopard sits to his right, his silence broken occasionally by a rasping cough. The hyena are seated at the bottom end, their squabbling and hysterical laughter an irritant to all and the wild dog with their capacity for continuous motion, don’t sit for long.

Soon, presiding over all of this, with a glass of his finest and most sensitive red in his hand will be Stretch.

The wet season will draw to a close towards the end of March, which is about when he rises from his off-season squash and social slumber. Along with the tents, vehicles and assorted supplies, we dust him off and spruce him up for the season ahead. It doesn’t take long for him to start to twitch at the thought of all the paw-prints out there just waiting to be tracked and translated.

Finally, in anticipation of another exciting and adventure – packed season, we’d like to send you a few photographs of our special moments last year.  Stretch as usual got to share the limelight with the animals and his time and knowledge with our treasured guests. He introduced children to his favourite elephant bulls, held the trembling hands of ladies as they tracked the lions and challenged every man to taste his chillie mix.

Pressed for a choice though, I’m sure we’d all agree that the highlight of our season was witnessing from start to finish a lion kill right in camp. We watched as the lioness swam across the channel to stalk and hunt down an impala ram trapped between the river’s edge and steep bank. As it tried desperately to leap vertically up the bank, the lioness was waiting at the top to snatch it. We sat just metres away watching it all. As she, her mother and her cub hadn’t eaten for days, we were overjoyed to see her finally have a successful hunt.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, take special care. Dust off your boots, bird books and binoculars. Slow down your brain and get those walking muscles trained. We’ll see you all soon.

Stretch, Flo and all at Goliath



Last surviving northern white rhinoceros - 12 January 2010

Last surviving northern white rhinoceros
12 January 2010

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is now home to four of the world’s last eight surviving northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni).

The four, two females and two males, have been flown from the Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic on the 19th of December 2009 and arrived on Ol Pejeta on the 20th. They are safe and well and appear in very good health after their long journey. The transfer is aimed at providing the rhinos with the most favourable breeding conditions in an attempt to pull the species back from the verge of extinction. It is thought that the climatic, dietary and security conditions that the rhinos will enjoy at Ol Pejeta will provide them with higher chances of starting a population in what is seen as the very last lifeline for the species.

The transfer marks the beginning of the "Last Chance to Survive", a project by the joint efforts of the Dvur Králové Zoo, Fauna and Flora International, Back to Africa, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Currently listed as the most critically endangered rhino subspecies and the most endangered mammal species in the world, the northern white rhinos used to range over parts of Uganda, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. By 1960 more than 2,000 northern white rhinos still existed, but excessive hunting for their horn, hide and meat has caused extreme depletion of their numbers.

Until recently, the only known wild northern white rhino population was clinging to survival in Garamba National Park in North-East Democratic Republic of Congo, but continued civil war and armed conflict in the area have caused devastating consequences to the wildlife and the people assigned to protect it. In recent decades the Garamba population did manage to increase to about 30 animals, but then crashed to 4 individuals in 2005. There was a brief opportunity to translocate some of these animals to a secure conservation area before this crash, but the initiative failed. Sadly, there has been no sign of the four individuals since 2007 and it is thought that the wild population may now be extinct. Thus the focus now shifted to the last remaining option involving the few northern white rhinos held in captivity.

Among the eight surviving northern white rhinos held in captivity are six individuals held in Dvur Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, out of whom only four, the ones transferred to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, are in good breeding condition; Sudan, a 32 year old male; Suni, an 18 year old male; Najin, an 18 year old female who is Sudan’s daughter; and Fatu, an 8 year old female, remain the species’ very last hope of survival.

Being home to 81 black rhinos and a few southern white rhinos, Ol Pejeta, which is East Africa’s largest Black Rhino Sanctuary, has been assessed to be the best possible location for the northern white rhino's breeding project. Besides its proximity to the northern white rhino’s environmental stronghold, Ol Pejeta also offers well qualified and experienced staff to care for these species. The rhinos will be fitted with radio transmitters in their horns to optimise security and monitoring.

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Weather disruptions at UK airports - 7 January 2010

Weather disruptions at UK airports
 7 January 2010

A large number of shorthaul round trips have been cancelled along with some longhaul operations.

Also many aircraft have been diverted to other airports due to the weather disruption.

CURRENT CUSTOMER GUIDELINES, 7 January 2010
General conditions of carriage
Please see www.ba.com

Customers who are due to travel today, Thursday 07 January 2010 and Friday 08 January 2010, whose flight is either into or out of London Heathrow and whose flight is STILL OPERATING may refund the ticket purchased to the original form of payment

Customers who are due to travel between Friday 08 January 2010 through to and including Sunday 10th January 2010, and whose flight is STILL OPERATING either into or out of London Heathrow or Gatwick may :

        1) Rebook for travel within 28 days of the scheduled departure time of the original flight to the same destination
         - If the same booking class is not available, the lowest available class in the same cabin may be used
         - This will be at no additional cost to the customer, and if required, the validity of the ticket may be extended.

        2) Rebook for travel outside of 28 days of the scheduled time of departure of the original flight to the same destination
         - The flight must be re-booked same booking class and travel must take place within the validity of the original ticket purchased.
         - This will be at no additional cost to the customer.

Customers who are due to travel today, Thursday 07 January 2010, whose flight has been CANCELLED may:

        1) Rebook onto an available flight to the same destination within a 28 day period.
        - This will be at no additional cost to the customer, and if required, the validity of the ticket may be extended.

        2) Rebook to the nearest alternative gateway within a 14 day period.
         - If the same booking class is not available, the lowest available class in the same cabin may be used
         - Shorthaul customers may choose same country or nearest destination i,e Lyon and Geneva.
         - For longhaul customers, the nearest gateway refers to the nearest available destination to the original destination e.g If the original destination is New York,                    alternatives could be Boston, Toronto or Chicago.  If the original destination was Bangkok the alternative would be Singapore.  
         - Onward travel from gateway to the customers original destination will be at the customer's own expense

        3) Rebook onto a flight to the same destination at a later date in the same booking class and cabin. The flight must be re-booked and travel must take place within the validity of the        
        original ticket purchased. This will be at no additional cost to the customer.

        4) Refund the ticket purchased to the original form of payment.





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