MOST tourism players in Victoria Falls have not heeded an international ban on elephant training, exhibition and rides, arguing that the prohibition order would drive them out of business.
By Nokuthaba Dlamini
The ban came into effect on December 31 last year.
Employers’ Association for Tourism and Safari Operations Association president and Shearwater Adventures spokesperson, Clement Mukwasi said operators had slowly transitioned, but it was now business as usual.
He said companies were not abruptly ending the elephant activities, but instead they were introducing programmes that would eventually see the retirement of these animals.
“We hear their call, but there are lots of things to consider before complying.
“We need to strike a balance between terminating someone’s job and elephant activities because, if you look at the Zimbabwean Constitution, we are not committing any offence, so this may be applying in their countries or it is just a moral call,” he said.
“Also, regarding tourists, there are some who enjoy walking with elephants, riding and feeding them and that boosts our industry, so we cannot just wake up and comply. Tourists enjoy such activities, so we need to strike a balance.
“We are actually working on scientific evaluation programmes of retiring elephants, as it includes monitoring them, as others may need rehabilitation and adaptation to bush life so that they don’t become a danger to the community or fail to survive on their own.”
According to operators’ reports, such activities have stopped in Botswana and South Africa and pressure is now on Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zambian tour operators, who offer elephant rides, advertised that they would stop on December 31.
Adventure Zone, Elephant Express and Shearwater are some of the companies that offer elephant rides in Victoria Falls while Lion Encounter does lion walks.