ElementZ in Press – Ecotourism Of Africa

It is a honor to have recently contributed on the Hong Kong Discovery magazine, a well regarded eco-focused publication that is going to hit their #100. HKDL (http://platform.hkdiscovery.com/index.jsp) has been a keen supporter of promoting environmental education and awareness.

HKDL p66 eco-economicsHKDL p67 eco-economicsHKDL p68 eco-economics

 

Ecotourism Experience – Walking Safaris

“It’s a group of 8 people comprising me, Sandor and a family of 4 persons. Roger, who was armed with a rifle, led at the front, followed by Steff, a young blonde guide lady who was carrying a rifle with a beautifully crafted hanger. Unlike most impression that being sandwiched by armed guides would maximize the protection, 2 armed guides at the front is more effective in safe guiding the group which moves in a line.

Excitement and unease due to uncertainly ran through my nerves. The feeling was a mix. And what echoed in my heart was how insignificant and weak human being become when we were stranded alone in the wild, empty-handed.

Roger led us to the middle of a bushland where we stand on a slight sunken sand pool. The rugged surface looked as if the area was constantly disturbed by large animals. ‘Here is where the rhino comes to poop.’ As Roger explained, Steff was guiding at a distance from us, looking around cautiously. We were not so surprised to hear that, but was amazed when Roger grabbed a dried dung and smashed it into pieces. It was in these dungs we found the remains of twigs rhino has ingested – all ingeniously cut at an inclined angle to keep the plants growing. ‘It is a black rhino. Their dung has a darker color because the branches they eat contains more pigments. White rhino has a square lip and are mainly grazers, but both types of rhino have a specialized lip that could eat but keep the plants alive.’
These animals make us humble.”

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Speaking of ecotourism, Botswana is definitely the most uprising superstar destination in this aspect. Tourism has taken down cattle farming and become the 2nd top contributor to Botswana’s GDP (While diamond is still the 1st).

After South Africa I traveled with Sandor to Botswana and stayed a few days in the Okavango Delta which was listed as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage and is the largest inland delta in the world. It was a hassle-free ride – a 1.5 hrs flight from Johannesburg to Botswana’s northern city Maun. Maun is the gateway to enter the Okavango Delta. Since lodges are mostly built on remote and isolated land pieces scattered in the delta, travelers are usually required to hop on small propeller planes in Maun or Kasane and fly direct to their lodges.

Lion cub observed in the delta
Lion cub observed in the delta

 

「這天徒步考察的「八人組合」包括我、魏聖德、資深嚮導Roger、一個來自美國的四人家庭,另外還有一位年輕金髮女嚮導Steff。Roger 和Steff 都手持步槍,雖然Steff這位美女外表強悍,但可能女孩子畢竟愛美,她的步槍肩帶是綉滿了花花的。隊伍排成一字型移動,跟很多人的想法相反,原來嚮導一前一後夾著參加者並不是最佳的安排,反而兩名嚮導走在最前,最有經驗的帶頭,排第二的嚮導(即Steff)集中察看四周潛在危機,才是最有效率的陣式。

那種緊張與興奮的交織,我至今仍回味無窮,赤手空拳處身荒野中,四周環境盡是未知數,心中竟然有點空空洞洞,更覺人類是這等渺小及弱雞。

Roger 帶領一行人去到叢林中間,站在一個稍為凹陷的沙地上,那個凹凸不平的地面令人第一時間就聯想到是由某種大型動物造成的。Steff 在離大隊不遠處的一個角落守候,時刻眼望四周保持警覺,當大家開始緊張兮兮時,Roger 突然笑指:「這裏就是犀牛來大解的地方!」我們其實隱約猜到幾分,所以聽到身處之地實為犀牛旱廁,並不特別出奇,倒是接下來的就真夠驚喜,他俯身拾起一大塊乾犀牛糞,五指運勁,把乾糞揉碎,然後取出一些枯枝碎片,叫我們留意這些枯枝枯草的切口全都呈某個斜角,並非平頭而切,他解釋道:「這隻應該是黑犀牛,因為牠們吃較多含色素的枝幹,所以糞便自然也較深色,白犀牛的嘴部較方和鈍,像個鏟子,多食地面上的草,然而兩種犀牛的嘴喙都有特別構造,把植物割斷但不把它弄死,使枝葉可再生。」真的是造物變化多端,自有其生存之道,大自然之妙盡使人謙虛。」!!

講到生態旅遊,實在不能不提博茨瓦納這個炙手可熱的「新貴」。這國家近 年力推生態旅遊,成功令旅遊業超越畜牧業,成為該國GDP排名第二高的產業 (鑽石出口仍排第一)。

我跟魏聖德離開南非飛到博茨瓦納北部的奧卡萬戈三角洲。奧卡萬戈三角洲 是世界最大的內陸三角洲,被聯合國教科文組織列為第一千號世界自然遺產,進 入三角洲的主要通道為城市馬翁,由約翰奈斯堡乘約一個半小時飛機便到達,非 常方便。由於三角洲內的酒店多是建在零星分布於濕地上,所以旅客多於馬翁或 於另一城市卡薩內,再轉乘小型飛機,空降到自己的 Safari lodge。

 

 

完整故事將會稍後上載於此,現階段各位不如支持一下印刷精美、用心編製的新一期野外動向雜誌,於以下地點發售 The complete story will be uploaded soon. Before that why don’t we support and buy the physical copy of the beautifully printed Hong Kong Discovery magazine? It could be found here: http://platform.hkdiscovery.com/viewarticle?id=37871

 

 Amazing safari experience in BotswanaBotswana Green Season Specials

Botswana in the green season offers a completely different but equally compelling experience. Lush landscapes, dramatic skies, and scores of baby animals are a photographer’s joy. Predators are especially active this time of year, as the usually arid grasslands come alive with migrations of zebra, buffalo, springbok, and birds.

From US$ 4,770/-

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