Zim Parks visitors mess up

2015-02-24 20:34

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Johannesburg - Some visitors to the Zambezi River urinated on the river bank and left toilet paper behind, according to social media's reaction to a bulletin by the Zambezi Society

"Over the past couple of years, the wilderness experience in Mana Pools National Park has undergone a noticeable deterioration, with the increasing abuse of this unique park by unsanctioned, uncontrolled human activities," the local conservation group's bulletin reads, a Sapa correspondent reported on Tuesday.

Situated in northern Zimbabwe, Mana Pools is an UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage site.

Well-known for its elephants, hippos and wild dogs, it is a favourite place for safaris, wild camping, and outdoor weddings.

Mana means four in the Shona language and refers to the four large pools near the river that are the park's main feature.

The park had few visitors throughout Zimbabwe's 2000 to 2008 economic crisis. Arrivals increased since Zimbabwe found a measure of stability when a coalition government was formed in 2009.

The park is now popular mostly with Zimbabwean and South African tourists, but conservationists are growing increasingly worried about uncontrolled behaviour in this once pristine wilderness area.

"It appears that, with an increasing influx of visitors and wildlife photographers keen for that once-in-a-lifetime image, wild animals and the park's fragile ecosystems are increasingly suffering from the impacts of human behaviour," the bulletin read.

Worried locals have recently drawn attention on Facebook to visitors leaving litter and using the river as a toilet, encroaching on other people's camps to get the best wildlife shot, dangerously baiting game to get good pictures and off-road driving along river beds.

At the moment visitors are allowed to walk in the park unguided.

"Mana Pools should not be a 'free-for-all' for visitors but a role model to world tourism," the society said while pointing out that the offenders are a "relatively small percentage" of visitors.

Public consultations are being carried out to determine how to enforce a code of conduct for visitors to the area.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  conservation

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