Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
A WAR is looming among tour operators in Victoria Falls after a businessman fenced off part of Chamabondo Forest in a development that will affect tourism activities as an animal corridor has been blocked.
Proprietors of Landela Complex which runs Landela Lodge in Masue, have erected a fence across Chamabondo Forest in a move some operators have said would push them out of business.
The same land has been earmarked by the government for establishment of a recreational theme park between Victoria Falls International Airport and Masue River.
Two tour operators Lion Encounter and Adventure Zone who are leasing an area in Chamabondo Forest have since been told to vacate as they have been encircled by the fence.
Landela Complex owner businessman Stewart Cranswick represented by his consultant Trevor Lane erected the fence stretching from the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road at Masue Bridge to Stanley and Livingstone Lodge more than 4km away.
The two-metre high fence seen by The Chronicle yesterday, also cuts across Masue River up to the railway line along the highway and extends westwards towards Nakavango area.
Even game drives in Chamabondo National Park operated by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will be affected as the fence closes off the game area.
Affected tour operators have approached the Affirmative Action Group over the issue complaining that no Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out in terms of the Environmental Management Act.
Brent Williams from Adventure Zone said no consultations were done.
“We wonder what could be happening because there was no consultation as we only saw a fence being erected.
“They’ve closed the game corridor and we wonder if we’ll still have access to our area of operation because that’s all we need,” he said.
Naison Webb from Lion Encounter confirmed that they had been given a notice to vacate.
“We were told last year and because land isn’t ours we’re looking for alternative space for our activities.
“If we fail to get one that means our business will be affected,” said Webb.
Lane said Lion Encounter and Adventure Zone would be removed from the area.
“I don’t know if any other operators will be affected but those operating from there have been told to seek alternative places.
“I can’t explain further because that’s not my land as I’m a consultant for Cranswick,” he said.
Authorities at Stanley and Livingstone lodge refused to allow Lane to join the fence to theirs.
“I don’t want to be seen commenting for now but we couldn’t allow their fence to be joined to ours.
“They also wanted their solar panels in our premises but we couldn’t allow that,” said wildlife manager at Stanley and Livingstone, Ian Dupreez.
AAG Victoria Falls chapter vice president Tonderai Mutasa said there were fears of fierce animal-human conflict as wildlife will now be forced to cross between Fuller Forest and Chamabondo through residential areas.