I warned you a month ago that the State Department was about to lower the boom on Zimbabwe. Just why is not clear, because officials in our embassy in Harare know how important US hunting revenue is to the future of Zimbabwe's wildlife. The US government has poured many millions of dollars into CAMPFIRE over the years, the groundbreaking community involvement scheme that has become the model for community involvement programs worldwide. Scaring US hunters out of Zimbabwe places CAMPFIRE and the entire conservation infrastructure of Zimbabwe in jeopardy.
To be sure, the new warnings contain some important advice about avoiding political discussion while on safari in Zimbabwe. Also, be careful what you bring with you that might be considered of a political nature. Don't take photographs of government structures or ask questions that might create the impression you are a reporter.
Those common-sense warnings aside, much of the other language in the new documents seems to be completely unwarranted. For example, the new Public Announcement specifically warns that indiscriminate state-sponsored violence has spread to rural areas, including tourist, hunting and safari areas. No one we have spoken to in Zimbabwe can point to a single incidence of state-sponsored violence in a hunting or safari area. It is this kind of jiggered-up warning, I think, that has eroded the credibility of the State Department as a source of traveler security information. For sure it has eroded mine. It has assuredly gotten Americans killed over the years because it has caused them to dismiss the importance of Travel Warnings and other State Department travel advice.
Importantly, as this issue went to press, subscriber Norman Don called to tell us he had just........(continued)