It is always a bit of an event, the ATTA summer party, with mostly the same people attending but great for networking and picking up a bit of industry gossip. The pre-event, social media presentation was also worth dropping into and it was refreshing to see a good cross section of tourism companies there. I managed to get a chair next to Alison from Ethos Marketing so great to see the bigger well established marketing and representation companies showing interest. To be fair though some of them did look a bit glazed over at the halfway mark. Stay with us people, this is the future!
Onto the main event and a number of things are set in stone. There will be a huge bowl of Quails eggs, the beer will run out, you will drink too much wine, someone will consider using the bush for a pee and the Zambian High Commissioner will deliver another classic. Prof Royson Mukwena was introduced by Nigel and helped up onto a box, he is a man of small stature, but still couldn’t quite see eye to eye with Alex from Great Plains from Great Plains. The prof immediately gave Nigel a bollocking, reminding him that he had been in the post for over 2 years and was not new at his job.
After the usual welcomes and thank yous the HC went on to run through the most recent tourism figures and highlight some of the Zambian attractions, reminding all of us what a fabulous destination Zambia is. High up on the list is of course South Luangwa, with Lower Zambezi somehow only getting a passing mention, again. This despite the fact of Chiawa Camp winning best African Safari Property in Africa, in the recent Good Safari Guide Safari Awards held at Indaba.
And then it came, a comparison between Zambia and Wales. Wales, Wales, what hell has Wales got to do with Zambia, and vice versa? Well apparently South Luangwa is the same size as Wales (it’s not) and South Luangwa has more animals than Wales. There was a bit of laughter and then, (started by me, I couldn’t resist!) a couple of baaa’s. This was done just in front of Mr. Shabwa Mwiinga, The First secretary (Immigration). He seemed to pick up on the joke and we had a good chat after the speech, so I think they will still let me back in the country.
So does South Luangwa have more animals and what is the same size as Wales? I’ll answer the second question first. Zambia is 752 614 km²and Wales is 20 779 km². South Luangwa is 9050 km². Kafue is 22 400km². So I presume that the HC meant to say that Kafue is the same size as Wales. That part of the problem solved.
Right how many animals does the Kafue National Park have within its borders? This is a much harder problem to solve as there is no central repository of data and a proper game count hasn’t been done for 25 years (source Mike Musgrave. Mike also helped with the numbers below, so it his fault if they are wrong). We do know however that The Kafue National Park has the most diverse species list of any park in Zambia. This is as complete a list as I can come up with -
|Hippo||2500||Yellow-backed duiker (rare)||no sightings|
|Defassa waterbuck (endemic)||20000||Vervet monkey||15000|
So total number of animals, in the region of 200 000
Right onto Wales. I had a chat with John Richards from Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales and he is the Swyddog Gwybodaeth y Diwydiant – Industry Information Officer. He was a very helpful chap and gave me the following number-
Sheep 8 244 000
So the winner is Wales by 8 million odd. No contest really in numbers. What Wales does lack of course is variation and diversity on the sheep theme. Some purists may beg to differ and say that there are many different types of sheep but to me they all go baaa.
I guess I always knew that Wales was going to win this contest but what has happened along the way whilst researching, is that I have discovered that there is a significant lack of knowledge and access to this knowledge for people like me. It could be that the data does exist on someone’s hard drive and they are still stuck in the bush. On the other hand it could also be a case of the data doesn’t exist as no-one is doing the research and the government and National Parks Authority are not interested. Let’s hope that someone has devoted their time and energy to this job. I have sent out a batch of emails and will update the figures as I get them.
In the mean time eat more lamb.