Namibia News
My first glimpse of Africa came from a nature program I watched as a child called Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Seeing elephants and giraffes lumber across a dry African landscape - even on TV - was in stark contrast to my suburban wildlife encounters that entailed red robins and gray squirrels hopping across manicured green lawns. I longed to one day see Africa's wildlife up close and in person.

That day finally came last winter on a trip in Namibia with African Profile Safaris, whose experienced guides provide driving and flying tours of this desert nation in the far southern tip of the continent. (Costs vary widely, depending on time of year, the level of luxury in lodges and other factors, but bank on spending at least US$400 (NZ$557) a person a day for a guided safari, including accommodations and food.)

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My adventure started with a thrilling ride in a bush plane from the central capital city of Windhoek to the far northeastern panhandle of Namibia, the Caprivi Strip. The flight went briefly over Botswana and the vast Okavango Delta, where I had my very first sighting of wild elephants lounging below in one of the region's many watering holes.

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A general rule when searching for wildlife in Africa: Where there is water, there are animals. And the Caprivi Strip is that rare part of Namibia that has a perennial abundance of water. On my drive from the airstrip to Nambwa Tented Lodge, I saw two large herds of elephants - an experience so well timed, it almost seemed staged.

The lodge looked lifted from the pages of a Hemingway novel. This modest collection of rustic-yet-luxurious safari tents is built on elevated wooden platforms near the floodplain of the Kwando River in Bwabwata National Park.

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During a boat trip on the river, I enjoyed a safari tradition - a "sundowner" cocktail sipped during the fading light of day - as we cruised past groups of half-submerged, grunting hippos. This "wet" region of Namibia is the only place in the country where hippo, Cape buffalo, red lechwe antelope and other animals that need abundant water can truly thrive.

After the Caprivi, I had an unexpected treat in the form of a visit with the region's indigenous San people, aka Bushmen, at Fiume Bush Camp near Grootfontein. Cattle farming has more or less destroyed Bushmen culture and customs, trapping these nomadic people inside fences and other borders.

Cattle farmer Jorn Gressmann grew up with Bushmen on his parents' farm and is trying to help the San make the difficult transition into the 21st century. Fluent in the Bushmen "click" language, Gressmann established Fiume Bush Camp and encouraged his San friends to create a living museum on his property.

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After introducing our small tour group, Gressmann excused himself and let the San teach us how they hunt and gather, build bows and traps, and find water in the harsh savanna climate. They also shared traditional songs and dances, including a fire dance given by a local medicine man. (Overnight rates at the camp are relatively low by safari standards at roughly US$145 a person.)

Not far from the camp is Etosha National Park, a world-renowned, protected wildlife area in north-central Namibia. Most of the government-owned lodges and campsites inside the park are a bit run down, so I chose to stay in Onguma Tree Top Camp, just outside the park's eastern gate.

Onguma's guides treated me to numerous sightings of various antelope - kudu, steenbok and oryx, to name a few - and my favourite of them all: the tiny dik dik, standing little more than a foot high at the shoulder. I also saw warthogs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, elephants, cheetahs ... well, you get the idea.

The sheer volume of animals one encounters in Namibia, in numbers and species, is much of what makes safaris here so impressive and memorable, especially in the "dry" season from June to October, when wildlife tends to cluster around waterholes. We saw much more than just large mammals. We spotted birds like lilac-breasted rollers, pale chanting goshawks and northern black bustards, as well as leopard tortoises, bat-eared foxes ... the viewing possibilities are endless.

One of my most memorable sightings involved a solitary male lion that sauntered out of the vegetation and into a crowded watering hole full of gazelles. The slender antelopes froze in place and stared, and so did I. Surprisingly, the lion didn't seem to be hungry. It was as if he just wanted to peruse his realm and confirm that he was king of it all. After rubbing carelessly against a tree and thundering a couple of deep roars, he casually turned and left.

My second lion sighting was a little more expansive. At Ongava Tented Camp, just south of Etosha, my guides showed me a pride of 12 lions: an adult male, three females and eight adorable cubs that behaved much like a litter of domestic kittens by climbing trees, mock fighting and playing. The adult male didn't seem to care much about our safari group, but every once in a while he'd stare at me with intense, golden eyes that made my spine tingle. Welcome to Africa, where one learns what it feels like to be food.

Leaving Etosha, I drove the Toyota Hilux I'd rented from Safari Car Rental Namibia more than 150 miles (241km) west to the ruggedly scenic Damaraland region and Grootberg Lodge for an entirely different view of Namibia. Perched on the edge of an enormous canyon of blood-red basalt rock in the Khoadi-Hoas Conservancy, the lodge boasts breathtaking, expansive vistas. Grootberg also is one of the first community-owned lodges in Namibia, providing locals with a sustainable income from tourist dollars.

While in Damaraland, I encountered endangered black rhinos, which seem to have found a safe haven here after being poached nearly to extinction. Wilderness Safaris Desert Rhino Camp works with a nonprofit to monitor and protect these prehistoric-looking beasts. The camp's guides took me out on a daylong search for these elusive desert dwellers, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my trip.

My last stop was Damaraland's Mowani Mountain Camp, designed to blend in with the area's trademark red sandstone boulders.

My stay at Mowani was beautiful and bittersweet, as it marked the end of my trip. I was left wondering how long it would be before I got to see Africa's wild animals - in the wild - again.

Source: Stuff



Published in News
Monday, 04 September 2017 13:34

Penalties For Poaching

SINCE 2012, after more than two decades of low numbers of poaching incidents involving elephant and rhino, Namibia has experienced an alarming increase in the poaching of these two species.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently reported that a total of 245 elephants were poached between 2014 and 2017, while a total of 241 rhino were poached between 2012 and 2017. 

The increase in wildlife crime is not restricted to Namibia. In 2016, the Great Elephant Census estimated that about 27 000 wild elephants are poached every year in Africa, primarily for their ivory. The census also reports that about 352 000 elephants are left in Africa – which means the elephant population will soon be decimated if poaching continues at the current rate. 

According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately 4 800 black rhino and 20 000 white rhino are left in Africa. Over the past few years, poachers killed the last wild rhinos in one of our regional neighbours, Mozambique. 

International crime syndicate networks fuel the demand for illegal wildlife products destined mainly for the East Asian black market. Wildlife crime now ranks amongst trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings in terms of profitability. Not only is wildlife crime an economic crime, it also exploits local people for personal gain. According to Global Financial Integrity, the annual retail value of the illegal global wildlife trade ranges between US$5 billion (N$66 billion) and $23 billion (N$300 billion). 

Per kilo, the retail revenues for ivory or rhino horn can be equal to or greater than the equivalent amount of cocaine or heroin, yet the legal penalties for poaching were up to now considerably more lenient than the punishments for dealing in such drugs. In developing countries, wildlife trafficking robs local communities of much-needed revenue streams and has negative impacts on the environment, security, and the rule of law – while little of the profit goes into the domestic economy. 

One of the actions taken by the Namibian authorities to deal with the increase in poaching was to amend the penalty provisions under the Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975. These amendments, which came into force in June this year, substantially increase the penalties for the illegal hunting of elephant or rhino, from a maximum fine of N$200 000 to a maximum fine of N$25 million. The potential imprisonment which can be imposed along with the fine has been increased from 20 to 25 years.

The penalties for illegal hunting of any other “specially protected game” (which includes zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, impala and hippo) have been increased from a maximum fine of N$20 000 to a maximum fine of N$10 million, with the maximum potential imprisonment being raised from 5 years to 10 years. These penalties apply only for first convictions. In the case of subsequent convictions for hunting elephant, rhino or specially protected game, the maximum fine goes up to N$50 million, and can be combined with imprisonment for up to 40 years.

The penalties for illegal hunting of “protected game” have also been increased, to somewhat lesser levels. This category of game covers a wide range of animals, including eland, blue wildebeest, steenbok, dik-dik, duiker and many other bucks. It also includes the big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) as well as many reptiles (such as pythons, crocodiles and tortoises) and scaly anteaters, better known as pangolins. 

The third category of game is “huntable game”. Here also, the penalties for illegal hunting have been increased. This category includes bushpig, buffalo, oryx, kudu, springbok and warthog. 

Increased penalties have also been set for illegal hunting at night. 

Another important new provision provides that a foreign national convicted of any offence under the ordinance will be automatically declared a prohibited immigrant and deported. 

The Nature Conservation Ordinance does not deal with offences for the possession and trade of controlled wildlife products. These are covered by the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act 9 of 2008, which still contains penalties widely viewed as being woefully inadequate in light of the value of the illegal trade in animal products such as elephant tusks, rhino horn and pangolin scales. 

However, these penalties are currently under review, with a view to similarly bring them in line with the current international situation, and the dire threat to Namibia's protected species. 

While the increase in penalties has raised a few eyebrows, out of fears that they might unfairly discriminate against poor Namibians, it needs to be kept in mind that the amendments merely set maximum penalties. Magistrates still have discretion when sentencing offenders to impose a penalty which is appropriate in light of all the circumstances, from a very small fine up to the maximum amount. 

Of course, anyone can avoid the threat of punishment entirely by refusing to take part in the destruction of Namibia's most emblematic wildlife species. 

International conventions have been put in place to protect threatened animals, but they can be effective only if the nations which are parties – like Namibia – make wildlife crime a serious crime in their own national legislation. 

Wildlife crime robs the nation and future generations of their natural heritage. The recent law reforms should help to prevent that tragic outcome.

Source: The Namibian
Published in News
The travel and tourism sector in Namibia is expected to greatly benefit from the Qatar Airways global expansion programme.

Qatar Airways recently announced a significant network expansion of 14 new destinations including six new destinations in Africa.

As of July, the airliner will operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft three times a week between Marrakech (Morocco) and Doha.

Four flights per week between Doha and Windhoek (Namibia) will begin on 28 September, while daily scheduled service to the Seychelles will resume on 12 December.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, also announced that in January 2017, it will offer three flights per week from Doha to Douala (Cameroon) and Libreville (Gabon) utilising one aircraft.

Non-stop service, three times weekly from Doha to Lusaka (Zambia) will begin by summer 2017.

Namibia’s deputy minister for environment and tourism Tommy Nambahu told The Southern Times that the Qatar airways decision to have a direct flight from Doha to Windhoek will bring lots of benefit to the region and Namibia in particular in terms of marketing and increase in the numbers of Asians tourists to the region.

“This is indeed a good move and we can benefit a lot if we can have a direct fight from Asian countries to Windhoek whereby our visitors have to first stop in South Africa and leave some currencies that they supposed to spend in Namibia.

“With Qatar coming to Namibia and other airlines that approached us in the past for example Turkey airlines that are busy exploring the possibility of flying directly to Windhoek, we can turn Namibia into a connection hub that will connect tourists to other attraction destinations in the region and Africa at large such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Of cause we are not there yet but it is part of Namibia growth and investment strategy,” Nambahu said.

“We don’t see ourselves in isolation but as part of SADC region and our idea is to integrate with other countries for instance that emerging from conflicts such as Angola that have not developed their tourism sector that much. And since we have a daily flight to Angola, there might be Asian tourists who are eager to visit the tourism attractions in those countries”.

Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker made the announcements about the new routes during at the opening day of ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel fair.

“Qatar Airways prides itself on being a global connector, and most importantly, providing seamless and convenient connections for our customers so that we remain their airline of choice. These new destinations are where our customers want to go, and where we see the most opportunity to provide a best-in-class experience at great value. We look forward to growing our network and welcoming new passengers to Qatar Airways,” said Al Baker in a statement issued by the airline.

Source: The Southern Times


Published in News
Friday, 11 July 2014 08:04

Simply Namibia

For our Namibia-lovers we just added a new program to our website. A 14 day round trip through the vast landscapes of Namibia. Explore this tour and keep in mind that we are able to adapt it to your needs...

http://www.oatravel.co.za/activities/simply-namibia/

Out and About Travel - We take you places
Published in News
This month, Travel Butlers has been cracking open the bubbly to celebrate 10 years in the safari business. A decade ago, this bespoke safari holiday specialist opened its virtual doors to sell unique, personalised wildlife adventures across Southern and East Africa. Now recognised as a leading African travel expert, it was awarded the prestigious SATOA best tour operator of the year award in both 2012 and 2013. In celebration of this landmark anniversary, the company is offering an amazing one-off special offer to make incredible safari holidays accessible to all.

This week, Managing Director Paul Campbell spoke about the personal and professional journey that he and his wife Tracey have had with Travel Butlers. “Eleven years ago, we set off on a career break adventure that turned our lives upside down. We were all set to travel the world and we spent several months in South America, but as soon as we arrived in South Africa, we were hooked.”

Before long, they had decided to build a company that could bring the best wildlife experiences of Southern Africa to the UK market. As Paul explains, “We knew that we wanted to be true leaders in our field, so we spent a year travelling throughout Southern Africa to discover the perfect locations and safari holidays to offer our customers. We even trained as professional safari guides, sleeping in a basic tent in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve for a month, and tracking animals on foot for hours each day. As you can probably tell, we don’t do things by halves!”

After setting up their website from Cape Town, Paul and Tracey sold their first trip to South Africa in November 2003. Since then, they have moved back to the UK and Travel Butlers has grown and expanded to cover the whole of Southern Africa as well as Kenya, Tanzania, and the Indian Ocean. The couple still travel at every opportunity to keep their expert safari knowledge current for their customers.


Paul and Tracey are both hugely grateful to their customers, without whom Travel Butlers wouldn’t be possible. So, to celebrate their tenth anniversary, they have come up with a special offer. Right now, Travel Butlers is offering wildlife lovers the chance to pay a deposit of only £100 per person to secure their safari holiday to South Africa or Namibia in 2014. The offer is valid for all new bookings confirmed between 12 November and 31 December 2013.

This £100 deposit per person (or equivalent amount in USD, EUR or ZAR) will secure the safari lodge, hotel bookings and transfers or hire car rental in South Africa or Namibia. The balance for the holiday will be due 8 weeks before travel. If customers wish to book international flights with Travel Butlers, these will need to be paid for in full at the time of booking. On top of all this, there is no surcharge for card payments of any kind.

Find out more at www.travelbutlers.com.


Paul and Tracey would like to thank everyone that has played a part in their Travel Butlers adventure so far, from agents to lodges to customers. They are both looking forward to bringing their amazing wildlife adventures to their customers for another decade.

Published in News
All the Namibia Track and Trails scheduled tours have a departure guarantee with a minimum of only two participants. Even when a tour is fully booked, the maximum size is 12 participants, ensuring excellent value and an intimate group atmosphere. The rate has been adjusted uniformly to one rate, so the price per participant is the same for small or larger groups. If your clients prefer a private departure of any of the existing tours, this can be requested with a minimum of four participants. Click here for an overview of all the Camping Safaris and for more info on Guided Accommodated safaris.

Published in News

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