June 17, 2009

Increase in Helicopters Over Zimbabwe Could Threaten Elephant Herds

Environmentalists have growing concerns over the impact of loud helicopters flying over the Victoria Falls where elephants roam in Zimbabwe.

Currently, there are only five regular helicopter flights that hover over the region at any one time, Zimbabwean journalist Brian Hungwe told BBC News.

However, local officials expect tourism in the region to pick up next year when South Africa will be home to the World Cup.

In the meantime, plans for other helipads are already underway, and Zimbabwean Environment Minister Francis Nehema said construction would continue until an official environmental impact assessment is made.

"It doesn't matter who you are. We want it done. It is a prerequisite," he told BBC News.

Environmentalists fear that loud helicopters could drive elephants from the region, which could lead to dangerous results for the region's ecosystem.

Experts foresee the number of helicopters flying overhead in the region to grow from five to 20 over the following year, which could greatly magnify the impact of noise pollution on elephant herds.


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