Press Releases & News items

In this section of Africa's Eden Press Corner, you will find the latest press releases on Africa's Eden, its destinations: Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe and the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic, as well as the conservation activities in the area.

 
ROUVERTURE DU LOANGO LODGE ET DES CAMPS DE AFRICAS EDEN 2011
9/21/2011
Libreville, 21 septembre 2011 Africas Eden vient dannoncer aujourdhui quelle rouvrira le Loango Lodge au Gabon la clientle internationale le 15 dcembre 2011. Africas Eden, la pionnire du tourisme de safari au Gabon, a suspendu ses activits courant 2010 suite des difficults daccs. Ces difficults sont maintenant rsolues et les connections ariennes rtablies.
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Communiqués, annonces, téléchargez:


Communiqué de presse internationale pour diffusion immédiate, francais

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden )
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Christophe Le Petit)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)

RÉOUVERTURE DU LOANGO LODGE ET DES CAMPS DE AFRICA’S EDEN


Libreville, 21 septembre 2011 – Africa’s Eden vient d’annoncer aujourd’hui qu’elle rouvrira le Loango Lodge au Gabon à la clientèle internationale le 15 décembre 2011. Africa’s Eden, la pionnière du tourisme de safari au Gabon, a suspendu ses activités courant 2010 suite à des difficultés d’accès. Ces difficultés sont maintenant résolues et les connections aériennes rétablies.

La réouverture du produit phare de Africa’s Eden, le Loango Lodge et ses camps satellites, est accompagné d’un projet d’aménagement qui supère le million d’Euros. Les rénovations incluent, parmi d’autres, une entière remise à neuf de l’intérieur des chambres et des espaces publics, le prolongement de la piste d’atterrissage du lodge, l’augmentation de la capacité de l’école de Loango et la création de plus de 130 emplois, reprenant ainsi son rôle de principal employeur de la région.

Loango Lodge, ses camps satellites, ainsi que le sanctuaire de gorilles des plaines Evengué Lodge, offrent une expérience incomparable et exclusive de la nature. Africa’s Eden, qui a remporté le British Guild of Travel Writer’s Award et a terminé comme finaliste lors du Changemaker’s Tourism Challenge de National Geographic s’attend à ce que, en 12 mois, l’ampleur de son opération atteigne les niveaux antérieurs d’environ 10 000 nuitées par an. Une fois de plus, les voyageurs passionnés pourront découvrir des écosystèmes uniques, divers et intacts dans et autour du Parc National de Loango.

Le Parc National de Loango

Le Parc National de Loango est l’un des 13 parcs nationaux proclamés par feu le président Omar Bongo Ondimba en 2002. Ce parc côtier couvre une surface d’environ 1 550 kilomètres carrés et est célèbre pour sa variété de paysages intacts, ses éléphants et buffles de forêt, ses gorilles des plaines et chimpanzés. Certains d’entre eux peuvent être observés de temps à autre – cas unique au monde – sur les plages tropicales de l’Océan Atlantique.

Rombout Swanborn – propriétaire de Africa’s Eden – a déclaré lors de sa visite au Loango Lodge le dimanche 4 septembre : « Nous discutons avec les représentants du gouvernement Gabonais la possibilité de développer nos activités de conservation. Ces activités éventuelles comprennent un centre de recherche sur l’écologie du littoral qui devrait se baser près de Loango Lodge, et l’accroissement des investissements de Africa’s Eden dans des activités touristiques au Gabon par la création d’autres lodges dans les Parcs Nationaux du Pays.

Africa’s Eden

Africa’s Eden a investi plus de 15 millions d’Euros dans la région de l’Afrique centrale et de l’Ouest depuis sa fondation en 2001, contribuant 3 millions d’Euros à la conservation et à la recherche sur la faune et la flore, de manière indépendante et à travers des organismes de conservation et des universités comme l’Institut Max Planck, la California Academy of Sciences (le centre d’erpétologie), et la Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). L’entreprise a initié ses opérations dans le Parc National de Loango au Gabon dans le but d’y développer un tourisme à faible impact et la conservation en utilisant le concept « le tourisme paye pour la conservation ». Ayant acquis une vaste expérience au Gabon, Africa’s Eden a commencé à appliquer ce concept dans d’autres pays de la région grâce à des tours organisés au Gabon, à São Tomé & Príncipe et en République de Centrafrique. Le but est d’offrir aux voyageurs une expérience unique, tout en contribuant à la conservation de la nature.

Développement

La rénovation du Loango Lodge vient de commencer et devrait se poursuivre jusqu’en novembre 2011. L’objectif est de ramener Loango Lodge au niveau de sa réputation comme premier lodge safari haut de gamme du Gabon.

Les camps satellite Pointe Ste. Catherine Beach Camp et Tassi Savannah Camp seront également modernisés, afin d’assurer à part entière service et personnel, invitant ainsi les voyageurs à séjourner plusieurs nuits. Par la suite, Evengué Lodge et Akaka Bush Camp seront complètement remis en état et lancés comme camps hauts de gamme intimes pour une clientèle avisée à la recherche de safari.

Laurie Owen, architecte d’intérieur ayant remporté de nombreux prix, a visité le lodge et les camps avec Rombout Swanborn afin de développer des espaces intérieurs et extérieurs rehaussant la beauté naturelle des environs.

La piste d’atterrissage à Loango Lodge se voit rallongée à 1000 m et sa surface refaite pour recevoir des vols directs de Libreville et Port Gentil. En raison de l’arrivée de la saison des pluies, aucune date exacte ne peut encore être annoncée quant à la fin des travaux.

De plus, dans l’optique d’accroître ses services à la communauté, Africa’s Eden augmentera la capacité d’accueil de l’école primaire de 100 enfants et lancera des services de formation professionnelle. Africa’s Eden fournira des emplois à approximativement 130 membres de la communauté locale, et réassumera le rôle de principal employeur de la région.

Gabon

Le Gabon, pays équatorial, se trouve à cheval sur l’équateur et borde l’Océan Atlantique. Le Gabon est l’un des pays les moins peuplés d’Afrique avec tout juste 1,4 millions d’habitants. Environ 80% de la population est urbaine, ce qui donne en moyenne moins d’une personne par kilomètre carré dans les zones rurales. Le Gabon démontre que l’exploitation responsable de vastes réserves de pétrole et une bonne gestion des forêts peuvent être combinées avec le tourisme durable.

Plus de 11% du territoire gabonais a été proclamé parc national et est entouré par des aires de conservation. Vous pourrez y trouver une jungle dense, des savanes, des marécages et des lagunes, ainsi qu’un vaste éventail d’animaux, du plus petit des insectes aux gorilles des plaines, des chimpanzés, des éléphants, des baleines à bosse, des potamochères, des tortues et des oiseaux, tous dans leur habitat naturel.
Frans Mulder, récemment nommé P-DG de Africa’s Eden, de conclure : « Nous développons un circuit touristique qui peut se comparer à l’Afrique de l’Est, où les safaris peuvent être combinés avec la découverte d’une île. Nous proposons une expérience de safari au Gabon authentique, épargné par l’homme, qui peut se combiner harmonieusement avec un séjour à São Tomé & Príncipe. Ces îles offrent non seulement les meilleures plages, mais aussi un habitat unique qui a – chose méconnue par beaucoup – plus de variété que les Îles Galápagos. »


Contact :

Gert Top
E gert.top@africas-eden.com
T +239 985 2629 / +27 82 33 88 050

Images :
Arini Alverina
E arini.alverina@africas-eden.com
T +31 26 370 55 67


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Africa's Eden's Loango Lodge and Camps Re-open 2011
9/21/2011
Libreville, September 21st, 2011 Africas Eden announced today that it will re-open its Loango Lodge in Gabon for international guests on 15 December 2011. Africas Eden, which is the pioneer of safari tourism to Gabon, had suspended its operation in mid-2010 following access difficulties. These difficulties have now been resolved and reliable aviation connections have been re-established.
Read details
 

For Press, download:


International Press release document, English version

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden )
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Christophe Le Petit)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)

AFRICA'S EDEN's LOANGO LODGE AND CAMPS RE-OPEN


Libreville, September 21st, 2011 – Africa’s Eden announced today that it will re-open its Loango Lodge in Gabon for international guests on 15 December 2011. Africa’s Eden, which is the pioneer of safari tourism to Gabon, had suspended its operation in mid-2010 following access difficulties. These difficulties have now been resolved and reliable aviation connections have been re-established.

The reopening of Africa’s Eden flagship Loango Lodge and satellite camps are accompanied by an improvement project exceeding € 1 Million which is currently in full swing. The improvements include, amongst others, a full interior refurbishment of rooms and public areas, an extension of the lodge’s runway, the increase of Loango School capacity and the creation of over 130 jobs, thus taking up its role as the area’s main employer again.

 Loango Lodge, its satellite camps as well as the lowland gorilla sanctuary Evengué Lodge, offer an unrivalled, exclusive nature experience. Africa’s Eden, winner of the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Award and finalist in the National Geographic Changemakers’ Tourism Challenge, expects that within 12 months the size of its operation will reach previous levels of around 10,000 bed-nights per year. Once again, passionate travellers will be able to experience the unique, diverse and intact eco-systems in and around Loango National Park.

Loango National Park

Loango National Park is one of the 13 national parks declared in 2002 by the late president Omar Bongo Ondimba. This coastline park covers some 1,550 square kilometres and is famous for its variety of unspoiled landscapes, forest elephants and buffalos, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Some of these can be seen from time to time –uniquely on Earth –on the Atlantic Ocean’s tropical beaches.

Rombout Swanborn – owner of Africa’s Eden – said during his visit to Loango Lodge on Sunday 4 September: “We are discussing with representatives of the Gabonese government the possibility to expand our conservation activities. These possible activities include a littoral ecology research centre to be based next to Loango Lodge and the expansion of Africa’s Eden’s investments in tourism activities in Gabon by developing other lodges in the country’s National Parks.

Africa's Eden

Africa’s Eden has invested over €15 million in the west central African region since its formation in 2001, contributing €3 million towards conservation and wildlife research, independently and through renowned conservation organisations and universities such as the Max Planck Institute, the California Academy of Sciences (Herpetology unit), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The company started its operations in Loango National Park, Gabon, with the aim to develop low-impact tourism and conservation in Gabon through the concept of ‘tourism pays for conservation’. Having gained a wealth of experience in Gabon, Africa’s Eden has started to apply this concept to other countries in the region with organised tours to Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe and the Central African Republic. The aim is to offer travellers a unique experience, while at the same time contributing to its nature conservation.

Development

The upgrading of Loango Lodge has just started and is scheduled to take place until November 2011. The focus is on bringing Loango Lodge back to the standard of its reputation as Gabon’s premier safari lodge.

The Satellite Camps Pointe St. Catherine Beach Camp and Tassi Savannah Camp will also be upgraded to fully serviced and staffed camps that invite travellers to a multi-night stay. Subsequently, also Evengué Lodge and Akaka Bush Camp will be completely revamped and launched as up-scale, intimate camps for discerning safari guests.

The award winning interior lodge designer Laurie Owen has visited the lodge and camps with Rombout Swanborn in order to develop interiors and outside spaces that enhance the natural beauty of the surroundings.

The airstrip at Loango Lodge is being extended to 1000m and resurfaced to allow direct flights from Libreville and Port Gentil. Due to the imminent start of the rainy season, an exact date of finishing the work on the airstrip cannot, as yet, be announced.

In addition, as an important expansion of services to the local community, Africa’s Eden’s will increase the primary school capacity to 100 children and is starting professional training services. Africa’s Eden will provide employment to approximately 130 members of the local community, and will take up again its role of being the area’s main employer.

Gabon

The equatorial country of Gabon is straddling the equator and borders the Atlantic Ocean. Gabon is one of Africa’s least populated countries with only 1.4mln inhabitants. Approximately 80% of the population is urbanised, making the average number of persons per square kilometre in rural areas less than one. Gabon showcases that the responsible exploitation of its vast oil reserves and well managed forestry can be combined with sustainable tourism.

More than 11% of Gabon’s territory is declared national park which are surrounded by conservation areas. Here you can find dense jungle, savannahs, wetlands and lagoons as well as an abundant range of animals, from the smallest of insects to lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, humpback whales, red river hogs, turtles and birds, all in their natural habitat.

Frans Mulder, the recently appointed CEO of Africa’s Eden, concludes: “We are developing a tourism circuit that can compare itself to East Africa where safaris can be combined with an island experience. We offer a genuine, unspoiled safari experience in Gabon that can be seamlessly combined with a stay on São Tomé & Príncipe. These islands not only offer the finest beaches but also a unique habitat that has –unknown to most- more variety than the Galapagos Islands.”


Contact information:

Gert Top
E gert.top@africas-eden.com
T +239 985 2629 / +27 82 33 88 050

Images:
Arini Alverina
E arini.alverina@africas-eden.com
T +31 26 370 55 67


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Loango Lodge in 2011.
2/24/2011
GABON, February 24 - In mid July 2010 Africa's Eden and its sister company SCD Aviation announced the closing of Loango Lodge in Gabon as per September 1, 2010. It seems that this complex problem with the Gabonese Aviation Authorities will finally come to an end.
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Loango Lodge's Fate in 2011.


In mid July 2010, Africa's Eden and its sister company SCD Aviation announced the closing of Loango Lodge in Gabon as per September 1, 2010. This decision was made as a result of an ongoing dispute with the Gabonese Aviation Authorities. It seems that this complex problem will come to an end. SCD Aviation has held intensive discussions with the Gabonese government to find final solutions. It is hoped that Loango Lodge can be re-opened in relatively short time. Keep updated about this information by checking our website regularly.   

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LOANGO, LE PARC NATIONAL PHARE DU GABON DEVIENT INACCESSIBLE
7/26/2010

Communiqués, annonces, téléchargez:


Communiqué de presse internationale pour diffusion immédiate, francais

Communiqué de presse gabonaise l´Union, francais

Annonce officielle, francais

Procedures d'annulation, francais

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)


LOANGO, LE PARC NATIONAL PHARE DU GABON DEVIENT INACCESSIBLE

 

Africa’s Eden SA, le principal opérateur touristique au Parc National de Loango, un parc décrit comme « le joyau de la couronne » du Gabon, a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’il se verra forcé d’abandonner ses activités d’écotourisme dans le parc à partir du 1er septembre 2010.
La décision a été prise bien que l’actionnaire de Africa’s Eden ait investi plus de 15 millions d’Euros au cours de ces neuf dernières années dans l’accès à l’aviation, l’infrastructure touristique, ainsi que la conservation de la nature : par la construction de logements, d’écocamps, la formation du personnel gabonais et des écoguides, et en donnant son soutien à la recherche et aux études de suivi en faveur de la conservation de l’exceptionnelle faune et riche biodiversité de Loango.

Ceci signifie que le Loango Lodge, qui depuis 2001 a accueilli des milliers de touristes internationaux pour leur faire découvrir les forêts à la faune abondante et le littoral du Gabon épargné par l’homme, ferme ses portes indéfiniment.

AFRICA’S EDEN SA SE RETIRE DU GABON
Ce départ est le résultat d’un échec des négociations suite à un différend opposant les autorités de l’aviation civile du Gabon (ANAC) et la société apparentée de Africa’s Eden, SCD Aviation, qui gérait une compagnie aérienne permettant de transporter les touristes de la capitale Libreville au parc.

Même le soutien actif des membres clefs du gouvernement gabonais n’aurait pu prévenir les graves conséquences d’une autorité de l’aviation civile défaillante (ANAC), autorité qui n’a pas su créer les conditions nécessaires à des transports aériens réguliers et sûrs : SCD Aviation s’est constamment vu refuser le renouvellement de son Certificat de Transporteur Aérien (CTA) bien que présentant toutes les conditions requises.

Une autre conséquence de cette situation épineuse est le fait que l’Union Européenne ait mis sur liste noire toutes les compagnies aériennes gabonaises en 2008, date à laquelle un grand nombre de déficiences furent constatées concernant la capacité de l’ANAC à « remplir ses responsabilités de surveillance en matière de sécurité », comme l’indiquait la Commission de la Commission Européenne. « Plus de 93% des normes de l’OACI n’étaient pas mises en oeuvre ». Ceci est le pourcentage le plus faible de tous les pays audités, et fait de l’ANAC au Gabon l’une des autorités de l’aviation civile les moins performantes du monde.

« Nous avons fait de nombreuses tentatives pour résoudre ce différend à l’amiable depuis maintenant plus d’un an », précise Robert Swanborn, le fondateur de Africa’s Eden et SCD Aviation. « Les événements actuels et les conséquences empêchant d’opérer nos avions ont handicapé financièrement notre organisation, ne nous laissant d’autre choix que de prendre cette mesure drastique ». Et d’ajouter : « Nous sommes profondément déçus étant donné qu’une solution aurait bénéficié toutes les parties impliquées, les Gabonais en fin de compte ».

Un procès a été entamé à l’encontre des autorités de l’aviation au Gabon afin de réclamer des dédommagements pour les pertes financières subies par SCD Aviation et Africa’s Eden.

DE GRAVES CONSEQUENCES POUR LE SECTEUR TOURISTIQUE ET DE CONSERVATION DU GABON
Feu le Président du Gabon, Omar Bongo, était célébré pour son leadership dans la conservation. En 2002, il affecta plus d’un dixième de son pays aux 13 parcs nationaux, plaçant la pierre angulaire de l’écotourisme, et s’attirant les acclamations de la communauté de conservation internationale.

Lee White, le chef de l’Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux du Gabon (ANPN), décrivait le Parc National de Loango en 2007 comme « le joyau de la couronne » des 13 parcs nationaux du Gabon. « C’est vraiment un bon exemple de conservation qui se réalise sur la base d’une infrastructure touristique bien organisée », expliquait-il.

« La fermeture du Parc National de Loango est un véritable revers dans le développement du tourisme durable au Gabon, » remarque Jacqueline van den Broek, directrice des ventes et marketing de Africa’s Eden. Elle précise que Africa’s Eden était le principal opérateur de tourisme au Gabon et qu’il avait permis au pays de gagner une immense exposition médiatique grâce à ses activités promotionnelles dans les salons internationaux et médias de renom tels que le National Geographic et la BBC. En 2008, Africa’s Eden a gagné le British Guild of Travel Writers’ Best New Overseas Destination pour ses activités au Parc National de Loango au Gabon. Le British Guild of Travel Writers est la principale organisation d’écrivains de voyage professionnels.

« À partir d’aujourd’hui nous arrêtons de promouvoir et de vendre le Gabon comme destination touristique. Les dommages sont considérables : plus de 125 employés seront licenciés et des millions d’Euros investis dans le tourisme seront perdus, et ceci indépendamment des 3 millions d’Euros que Africa’s Eden a contribué à la recherche, la conservation et l’éducation dans le parc. »

Le parc accueille une variété de projets scientifiques, nombre d’entre eux étant en partie financés par l’argent provenant du tourisme, étant donné que Africa’s Eden opérait sous l’éthique du « tourisme paye pour la conservation ». Ces projets comprennent la recherche et des études de suivi sur les baleines, lamantins, crocodiles et tortues par la Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) et le World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Dans le nord du parc, des primatologues de l’Institut Max Planck ont été les pionniers dans l’habituation des gorilles des plaines de l’ouest et les chimpanzés, et on espérait que les touristes puissent enfin les voir. Au parc, un autre projet pionnier de sanctuaire pour gorilles et de réinsertion a aussi été financé par Africa’s Eden et fait les gros titres internationaux lorsque six gorilles nouveau-nés et juvéniles des pleines, légalement confisqués et sauvés du commerce de la viande de brousse, ont été transférés sur une île en sûreté dans la Lagune de Fernan-Vaz en dehors du Parc National de Loango en juillet 2009, et considéré comme le premier transfert réussi.

Néanmoins, les projets de conservation de la nature à Loango font maintenant face à un futur incertain.

AFRICA’S EDEN CHANGE D’ORIENTATION
L’orientation du groupe d’investissement international soutenant Africa’s Eden va dorénavant se tourner vers des investissements dans le développement durable sur l’île de Príncipe, une île tropicale au large des côtes de l’Afrique de l’ouest, et dans la Réserve de Dzanga-Sangha en République de Centre Afrique.

Un autre communiqué de presse est à prévoir le 15 Août. Il porterait sur un projet de 35 millions d’Euros ayant but de créer un développement économique durable pour l’ensemble de l’île de Príncipe basé sur l’écotourisme. Les investissements prévus sur l’île sont d’ordre logistique, touristique et d’infrastructure de parc national.

HISTORIQUE
Depuis sa création en 2001, Africa’s Eden SA a eu pour but de développer un écotourisme à faible impact et la conservation dans le Parc National de Loango au Gabon, se basant sur le concept du « tourisme paye pour la conservation ». SCD Aviation SA a été mise en place simultanément pour opérer comme transporteur régional de Libreville vers les principales capitales en Afrique centrale de l’ouest et vers les parcs nationaux.

Le Parc National de Loango dispose d’un littoral épargné par l’homme s’étendant sur 100 kilomètres où les éléphants et les buffles se promènent en liberté. On y trouve un lodge principal avec logement de type bungalow de luxe surplombant une lagune, et cinq camps satellite confortables avec vue sur une mosaïque de savane ouverte, plage désertée, forêt tropicale et rivières. Les activités de safari incluent des tours en brousse, du kayak, des randonnées en forêt, l’observation des gorilles et oiseaux, et le parc est aussi reconnu pour être un site de pêche sportive de tarpon et barracuda.

Les revenus générés par Africa’s Eden sont réinvestis dans la recherche, la conservation, la gestion du parc et des activités éducatives dans le Parc National de Loango. Plus de 3 millions d’Euros ont été attribués à des partenaires dans la conservation tels que l’Institut Max Planck, la Wildlife Conservation Society, à des chercheurs d’universités renommées et locales, et à une école primaire locale.

Basé sur le concept du « Tourisme paye pour la Conservation », le bureau des ventes internationales et de marketing de Africa’s Eden aux Pays-Bas (www.africas-eden.com) continuera à organiser des voyages exclusifs sur les îles de São Tomé & Príncipe et la Réserve de Dzanga-Sangha dans la République de Centre Afrique.

À voir aussi :
www.africas-eden.com

Pour plus d’information et images :
Jacqueline van den Broek, Africa’s Eden
jacqueline.vandenbroek@africas-eden.com
 


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GABON'S FLAGSHIP LOANGO NATIONAL PARK INACCESSIBLE
7/23/2010

For Press, download:

International Press release document, English version

Local Press release l´Union French version

Official announcement, English version

Cancellation procedures, English version

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Viljoen)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)


Gabon’s flagship Loango National Park inaccessible 
 

Africa’s Eden SA, the main tourism operator at Loango National Park – the park described as Gabon’s "jewel in the crown" – has announced today that it has been forced to abandon its ecotourism operations at the park as of September 1st 2010.
The decision has been taken despite Africa’s Eden’s shareholder having invested more than 15 million euros over the past nine years in aviation access and tourism infrastructure and nature conservation: building accommodation, eco-camps, training Gabonese staff and eco guides and supporting research and monitoring studies for the conservation of Loango’s exceptional wildlife and biodiversity wealth.

It means that Loango Lodge, which since 2001 has welcomed thousands of international
tourists to discover Gabon’s wildlife rich forests and unspoiled coastline, is closing its doors indefinitely.

Africa’s Eden SA pulls out of Gabon

The move is a result of the failure of negotiations following a dispute between the Gabonese civil aviation authorities (ANAC) and Africa’s Eden’s sister company SCD Aviation which ran a regional airline charter company to transport tourists from the capital Libreville to the park. Even active support of key members of Gabonese government could not prevent the severe consequence of a malfunctioning civil aviation authority (ANAC) that failed to create the conditions necessary for regular and safe aviation transportation: SCD Aviation was consistently refused the renewal of its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) even though all requirements were met.

Another consequence of this problematic situation is the fact that the European Union
blacklisted all Gabonese airlines in 2008 when a large number of deficiencies were reported with regards to the capability of ANAC “to perform their air safety oversight responsibilities”, as states the Commission of the European Commission. “More than 93% of the ICAO standards were not implemented”. This was the lowest percentage of all audited countries, and makes ANAC in Gabon one of the poorest performing civil aviation authorities in the world.

 
We have made numerous attempts to resolve the dispute with a dysfunctional Civil Aviation Authority amicably for over a year now. The ongoing events and consequences of not being able to operate our aircraft have financially crippled our organisation, leaving us with no choice but to take this drastic measure.
 
said Rombout Swanborn, founder of Africa’s Eden and SCD Aviation.

He added:
 
We are highly disappointed as a solution would have benefited all parties involved, in the end, the Gabonese people.


Legal action against the aviation authorities in Gabon has been initiated to seek
compensation for the financial losses SCD Aviation and Africa’s Eden have undergone.
 

Severe consequences for Gabon´s tourism & conservation sector

Gabon’s late President Omar Bongo was celebrated for his leadership in conservation. In
2002, he ring fenced more than one tenth of his country as 13 national parks, lighting the touch paper of ecotourism, and inviting plaudits from the international conservation
community.

Lee White, head of Gabon’s National Parks Agency (ANPN), described Loango National Park in 2007 as “the jewel in the crown” of Gabon’s 13 national parks.  "It is a really good example of conservation taking place on the back of a well-organised tourism infrastructure," he said.

"The close down of Loango National Park is a major setback in the development of sustainable tourism in Gabon," said Jacqueline van den Broek, sales & marketing manager of Africa’s Eden.

She added that Africa’s Eden was the main tourism operator in Gabon and that it had won the country huge global exposure through its promotional activities at international trade shows and in renowned media such as National Geographic and the BBC.

In 2008 Africa's Eden won the British Guild of Travel Writers' Best New Overseas Destination for its activities in Loango National Park in Gabon. The British Guild of Travel Writers is the leading organization for travel writers professionals.

 
As of today, we will stop promoting and selling Gabon as tourism destination. The damage is considerable: over 125 employees will be laid off and millions of euros of tourism investments will be lost, quite aside from the €3 million that Africa’s Eden has contributed towards research, conservation and education at the park.
 
The park is host to an assortment of scientific projects, many part-funded by the money
earned from tourism as Africa’s Eden has operated under an ethos of “tourism pays for
conservation”. These projects include research and monitoring studies of whales, manatees, crocodiles and turtles by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In the north of the park, primatologists from the Max Planck Institute have been pioneering the habituation of western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees, and it was hoped that tourists would eventually be able to view them. A further pioneering gorilla sanctuary and reintroduction project has also been funded by Africa’s Eden at the park and made international headlines when six infant and juvenile western lowland gorillas legally confiscated and rescued from the bushmeat trade were transferred onto a safe island in the Fernan-Vaz Lagoon outside Loango National Park in July 2009 in what was the first successful transfer here.

However, Loango’s nature conservation projects now have an uncertain future.

Africa´s Eden shifts focus

The focus of the international investment group behind Africa’s Eden will now shift towards its investments in sustainable development on the island of Príncipe, a tropical island off the west African coast, and in the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic. A separate press release can be expected on August 15th 2010 on the 35 Million Euro sized project that aims to create sustainable economic development for the full island of Principe based an ecotourism. Investments are foreseen in the island logistical, tourism and national park infrastructure.

Background

Since its creation in 2001, Africa's Eden SA aimed to develop low-impact eco-tourism and
conservation in Loango National Park, Gabon based around the concept of ‘tourism pays for conservation’. Simultaneously put in place was SCD Aviation SA, operating as a regional carrier from Libreville to the major capitals in west central Africa and to the national parks.

Loango National Park has 100 kilometres of unspoiled coastline where elephants and buffalo roam. There is a main lodge with luxury bungalow accommodation overlooking a lagoon and five comfortable satellite camps on a mosaic of open savannah, deserted beach, rainforest and rivers. Safari activities include game drives, kayaking, forest treks, gorilla and birdwatching and the park is also renowned as a sport fishing site for tarpon and barracuda.

Revenues generated by Africa’s Eden are reinvested in research, conservation, park
management and education activities in Loango National Park. Over 3 million Euro was
contributed towards conservation partners such as the Max Planck Institute, Wildlife
Conservation Society, researchers from renowned and local universities, and a local primary school.

Based on the concept of "Tourism pays for Conservation", Africa’s Eden’s international sales and marketing office in the Netherlands (www.africas-eden.com) will continue to organize exclusive trips to the islands of São Tomé & Príncipe and the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic.

For more information:

Jacqueline van den Broek, Africa´s Eden 

jacqueline.vandenbroek@africas-eden.com




 

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BBC World Service reports on...
2/5/2010
... the re-awakening of the chocolate isles Sao Tome & Principe
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BBC World Service

reports  on the re-awakening of the chocolate isles Sao Tome & Principe
The Portuguese colonists used to call them the chocolate isles. And after the Portuguese left in 1975, life on the two African islands slowed as they sank deeper and deeper into poverty. But now there are signs that the archipeligo of Sao Tome & Principe is awakening from its long slumber.

The international demand for organic chocolate is helping revive an economy that may have also been on the verge of an major offshore oil boom. Sarah Monaghan has been visiting the islands and she was invited a taste a little of their history.

Listen to the story on BBC Player

From 12 min 30 sec until 17 min 45 sec

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The Secret Language of Elephants - on CBS 60 Minutes
1/4/2010
For two decades, a group of wild African elephants has been watched over, studied and protected by their own guardian angel: an extraordinary American scientist named Andrea Turkalo. Turkalo's own story is pretty amazing, but not nearly as compelling as the insights into elephant behavior her research has revealed, especially when it comes to "the secret language of elephants." - Watch the video below.
Read details

60 Minutes' Bob Simon Reports On Research To Create An Elephant "Dictionary" 



Watch CBS News Videos Online

The Sangha River flows through the Congo Basin along the border between Cameroon and the Central African Republic in the second largest rain forest on Earth. This remote corner of the world is the place Andrea Turkalo, a field biologist, lives in a compound that she and a group of Pygmies built from scratch. The Pygmies help her run the place. Commuting to her job is a hike. The last couple of miles took us through some interesting terrain.
 
Okay, now we're gonna enter the forest. And the advice I like to give everyone at this point is to stick together
 
, Turkalo told 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon.

 
If we happen to run into elephant, we should all stay together and move in the same direction so we don't confuse them.
 


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African children on 'gorilla warfare' mission in run-up to COP15
12/7/2009
Seven poor African children fly to Paris on dream-of-a-lifetime trip to be crowned Young Ambassadors of the Great Apes
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For press, download:

Word document, English version
Word document, French version

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Sarah Monaghan)
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Sarah Monaghan)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Sarah Monaghan)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Sarah Monaghan)
Image 5, for use together with press release (copyright Sarah Monaghan)

African children on 'gorilla warfare' mission in run-up to COP15
 

"It’s the gorillas I’ve got to thank for bringing me here."said Sephora Binet-Mboti, (13), as she gazed up, wide-eyed, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.


She was a long way from her in home in Central Africa where she lives in Gabon at subsistence level in a clapboard house with her parents and nine brothers and sisters.

Sephora had never travelled as far as the capital of Gabon, let alone to the developed world, but on Thursday (3rd December) she boarded a plane for an all-expenses-paid dream week in Paris, the city of lights.

She was one of two children from Gabon and five from Uganda who were jetted to France by UNESCO and the French Environment Ministry (MEEDDM) to be crowned ‘Young Ambassadors of the Great Apes’ as a culminating event for the UN Year of the Gorilla (YoG).


image copyright Sarah Monaghan


The event (5th December) was timed to coincide with the run-up to COP15, the United Nations’ climate change conference in Copenhagen.


UN YoG Ambassador Ian Redmond, the British conservationist and colleague of the late Dian Fossey, was at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris for the inauguration ceremony of the children who will return to their countries in their ambassadorial roles to spread the conservation message.

The were selected from more than 100 schools in Gabon and Uganda that since 2008 have been taking part in a nationwide educational awareness project called Great Apes and their Habitat to teach them about the importance of protecting great apes from extinction and preventing deforestation and climate change.


image copyright Sarah Monaghan



 
Getting children involved is the key to the future,

said Ian Redmond.

 
Children will be either the conservationists or the bush meat customers of the future. If we can convince them to help protect the great apes, they will educate their parents and their peers.


Like the Slumdog Millionaire cast children who were whisked to London for all the glamour of the Oscars, the seven children came from poor families who survive mainly by subsistence farming. They all live in close proximity to wild gorillas.

The project is supported by numerous conservation organisations including the Jane Goodall Institute, UNESCO, the Convention on Migratory Species, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In 2010, it will be rolled out in Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. 

Great apes in the garden


The two young ambassadors from Gabon are from forested areas near Loango National Park which is inhabited by western lowland gorillas.

The five from Uganda are from near Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks, the only region in the world where tourists can see some of the world’s remaining estimated population of 750 wild mountain gorillas.

Both species are considered ‘critically endangered’ by the IUCN and face extinction. The main threats include logging and loss of habitat, bush meat hunting, disease and the impact of war and political unrest.

Immaculate Nyiransenga (17), one of the Ugandan young ambassadors to travel to Paris, said that people’s attitudes to gorillas in Mgahinga could be negative despite the income gorilla tourism brings in.

 
We live on the edge of the park so sometimes the gorillas come into the gardens and raid our banana crops,
 
she said.
 
 
But now I consider gorillas like my brothers – we have to be tolerant and live together.
 

Gorillas on the menu

In Gabon a survey of the 4,600 children who took part in the Great Apes and their Habitat educational awareness project revealed that up to 70% from the Loango area had eaten gorilla and up to 90% had eaten chimpanzee.

In Asséwé, the small village where Sephora lives, most people get by growing manioc, sweet potato and bananas and small-scale fishing. Over half of the children surveyed here said their fathers regularly went bush meat hunting, “In my village, people love to eat gorilla and chimpanzee meat,” said Sephora. “They will put a bullet in a gorilla as soon as they see one in a tree.”

But the awareness project, she said, had changed her mind. “I wouldn’t eat gorilla meat now – I couldn’t – the education project has given me a different idea of gorillas. We have to protect them, not eat them,” she said.

She was accompanied to Paris by Herman Loudou, the Gabonese team leader at the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project at Loango National Park (http://gorillasgabon.scd-conservation.com/).

The park has a ‘tourism pays for conservation’ ethos and its operator Africa’s Eden (www.africas-eden.com) supports a pioneering gorilla reintroduction programme that successfully transferred six bush meat gorilla orphans into the wild in July.

Herman was part of the team of conservationists who over the last 18 months have visited 66 schools in Gabon with the Great Apes and their Habitat educational awareness project.

“When we started talking of gorillas in terms of their being vulnerable and sensitive creatures, the children looked shocked,” he said. “They considered them aggressive and frightening and had no idea of the importance of their role in seed dispersal and the forest life cycle.”

Powerful attitudes

Changing cultural attitudes is a major challenge to overcome in protecting the dwindling populations of gorillas and chimpanzees in Africa. “I used to hunt monkeys and sell them for money to buy things I needed like exercise books for school when I was a kid,” said Herman. Gorillas are also believed to confer strength. “Gorilla is a meat that the village chiefs want to eat because it is a big strong animal and they believe that in eating it, they will become powerful,” said Ian Redmond.

“It’s an engrained cultural attitude we have to try to change. If I’d grown up in a village like that I’d probably think the same thing.”

As part of the Great Apes and their Habitat educational awareness project, the children were shown models of gorilla skulls, hands and feet.

“They were so like humans’!” said Guinola Guigambou (12) who is from Omboué in Gabon and the other Gabonese young ambassador of the great apes to be taken to Paris. “It made me realise how closely we’re related.”

Sabrina Krief, primatologist at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris and founder of the Projet pour la Conservation des Grands Singes, devised the Great Apes and their Habitat educational awareness project which through games and models teaches children the importance of preserving the biodiversity in the world’s remaining tropical forests.

Additional information

The Great Apes and their Habitat educational awareness project was devised by primatologist Sabrina Krief at the French Natural History Museum (Projet pour la Conservation des Grands Singes (http://sabrina-jm-krief.com/education%20environnement.html)) with the help of local conservation NGOs and the environment ministries in Uganda and Gabon.

Since 2008, more than 15,000 school children in 52 schools in Uganda have learned about the critically endangered mountain gorilla and 4,600 children in 66 schools in Gabon (many of them live in forestry concessions as Gabon is 85% forested).

For more information:
pressrelease@africas-eden.com, or
s.monaghan@impact-media.com

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SCD invests 10.8 million Euro to create ecologically-run tropical island economy
11/19/2009
Sao Tome & Principe, November 2009 - The government of Sao Tome & Principe and Societe de Conservation et Developpement (SCD) announced that they have entered a strategic partnership, aimed to develop the sustainable tourism potential of Africas second-smallest country.
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For Press, download:

Word document, English version
Word document, French version
Word document, Portuguese version

Image 1, for use together with press release (copyright Christophe Lepetit)
Image 2, for use together with press release (copyright Michael Poliza)
Image 3, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)
Image 4, for use together with press release (copyright Africa's Eden)


SCD invests 10.8 million Euro to create ecologically-run tropical island economy
 

The government of Sao Tome & Principe and Societe de Conservation et Developpement (SCD) announced that they have entered a strategic partnership, aimed to develop the sustainable tourism potential of Africas second-smallest country.
Under the deal, SCD invests over €10 million in the 136 km2 equatorial islands of São Tomé & Príncipe, that lie 250 km off the west coast of Gabon, of which €7.35 million will go towards the sustainable development of the smallest of the two islands, Príncipe.

Sustainable economic development on Island of Príncipe

Príncipe’s first priority is to become accessible to the world, which will be achieved by upgrading the current airport facilities to international standards and by operating inter-island flights. Furthermore, SCD is investing in luxury tourism infrastructures. SCD will also contribute towards the education of the local population, national park management, and set up sustainable forms of fishing, agriculture and waste management. With a population of only about 5,000 people, this ongoing development plan offers a platform to draw the island out of poverty without jeopardising the pristine surroundings.

 
The investments of SCD towards Príncipe’s airport and Bom Bom Island Resort, as well as the agreements on future investments, have the potential to transform Príncipe into a fully self-supporting economy, driven by sustainable tourism and development. We are excited about these prospects; the island of Príncipe is a pearl on the equator that we are opening up to the world. We welcome visitors to discover our paradise,
 
said Regional President of the Island of Príncipe, Tose Cassandra. Rombout Swanborn, CEO of SCD, adds:

 
We are looking forward to partner with the government of Príncipe in a strategic deal to create the first-ever ecologically run tropical island economy and to unfold its enormous tourism potential. Príncipe can compete with Zanzibar, the Seychelles and île de la Reunion as a beach destination, with Costa Rica as an ecotourism destination, and with St. Barth and Moustique as a hideout for the rich and famous
 

Planning

The upgrade of the airport facilities on Príncipe has recently started and is scheduled to take place until February 2010, thereby improving the landing strip, airport infrastructures and adding runway illumination.

Jannie Fourie, manager of Omali Lodge Luxury Hotel on São Tomé and operator of the islands’ airline Africa’s Connection STP, explains: 
 
There are currently 3 flights between the islands per week. The lights will allow for evening and night landings, which will amongst others be of use in case of emergency evacuations of the local population as there limited medical services on Príncipe.
  
The renovations of the famous Bom Bom Island Resort are already well on their way. Other investments will be determined together with the government of São Tomé & Príncipe.



 

 

SCD invests largely in west central Africa 

Since its formation in 2001, SCD has invested over €15 million in Gabon and the Central African Republic, contributing €3 million towards conservation and wildlife research, independently and through renowned conservation organisations such as the Max Planck Institute. The company started its operations in Loango National Park, Gabon, with the aim to develop low-impact tourism and conservation in Gabon through the concept of ‘tourism pays for conservation’. Having gained a wealth of experience in Gabon, SCD has started to apply this concept to other countries in the region.

The division Africa's Eden (www.africas-eden.com) organises tours to Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe and the Congo Basin for tourists to have a unique nature experience, while at the same time contributing to biodiversity conservation.
 

São Tomé & Príncipe

The equatorial islands of São Tomé & Príncipe lie in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 250 kilometres off the west coast of Central Africa. These islands form one of the smallest independent states in the world, located on an alignment of once-active volcanoes, with rugged landscapes, dense primary tropical forests and beaches of black and white sand. Amidst these lush surroundings, you will find many exotic plants and flowers – new orchid species are discovered here regularly – and birdwatchers can look out for 143 species of birds, of which 26 are endemic.

For more information:
pressrelease@africas-eden.com

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Bongo Names Gabon Government
10/19/2009
Gabon's new president Ali Ben Bongo has named his first government. Mr. Bongo is promising change after more than 40 years under his father, Omar Bongo.

Source: VOA News, by Scott Stearns
Read details
 
Ali Ben Bongo is keeping interim Prime Minister Paul Mba, who has served in the post since July when his predecessor stepped down to run against Mr. Bongo.

Paul Tongui remains foreign minister. Jean Francois Ndoungou keeps his job as interior minister. Angelique Ngoma moves from minister of families to defense minister - the first time a woman has held that post in Gabon.

Mr. Bongo was defense minister in the previous government of his father, Omar Bongo, who died in June.

In all, 12 members of the new government are veterans of the previous administration. But Mr. Bongo has trimmed its size. Including himself and the prime minister, there are just 30 members of the new government. The previous administration had 44.

Francois Engongah Owono is the secretary general of the presidency. Owono says the new, smaller government will be more efficient and includes people determined to get everyone in Gabon working together for a better country.

Mr. Bongo was sworn in Saturday after a lengthy review of the August election that brought him to power. Opposition candidates filed suit to overturn the results, accusing electoral officials of vote fraud to benefit the ruling party. Gabon's constitutional court recounted returns from more than 2,800 polling stations and confirmed Mr. Bongo's win.

Most election observers believe the vote was fair, despite irregularities that included security forces at polling stations, some ballot boxes not being properly sealed, and the absence of opposition representatives during some vote counting.

Mr. Bongo is promising to improve health, education, and housing in Gabon and more equitably distribute oil revenue. Under his father, Gabon became he world's sixth-largest oil exporter but 70 percent of the population still live in poverty.

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Meet São Tomé and Príncipe in Amsterdam
9/29/2009
Clifford Chance LLP Amsterdam and Africa's Eden are pleased to invite you to come and meet São Tomé & Príncipe on 21 October 2009.
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Clifford Chance LLP Amsterdam and Africa's Eden are pleased to invite you for a meeting with São Tomé & Príncipe on 21 October 2009.
  Despite its small size and number of inhabitants, the islands of São Tomé and Principe were once one of the world leaders on the coffee and cacao market. Although not very well known, they are a great place to visit and offer interesting investment opportunities. Therefore we are eager and pleased to present them to you!

Africa's Eden is active as a tour operator to São Tomé & Príncipe where it owns two hotels and operates flights between the islands. Clifford Chance is an international law firm and lawyers of Clifford Chance have been active in a number of charitable projects in São Tomé & Príncipe.

Clifford Chance and Africa's Eden will, in co-operation with a number of São Tomeans, present to you various interesting aspects of the islands such as tourism, investment, culture and charitable projects.

After the seminar we will be hosting an exhibition of paintings, sculptures and photos by the São Tomean artists René Tavares, Kwame Sousa, Adilson Castro, Eduardo Malé and Inês Gonçalves. During this exhibition we will serve drinks and canapés prepared by João Carlos Silva, a well known TV chef in São Tomé and Principe.

If you would like to attend the exhibition only, you are of course more than welcome to do so.

The complete programme shall be as follows: 
Time Programme
14.30 - 15.00 Registration
15.00 - 15.20 An introduction to São Tomé & Príncipe
15.20 - 16.00 Destination São Tomé & Príncipe
16.00 - 16.20 Break
16.20 - 17.00 Developing São Tomé & Príncipe (Parallel sessions) :
(a) Investing in São Tomé & Príncipe
(b) Community and charitable projects in São Tomé & Príncipe
17.00 - 17.30 The culture of São Tomé & Príncipe
17.30 - end Exhibition: Official opening with drinks and canapés

We very much hope to see you at our São Tomé & Príncipe event. When registering, please indicate which parallel session you are interested in.

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact Jacqueline van den Broek at Jacqueline.vandenbroek@africas-eden.com


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What's in store for Gabon's international tourism industry under the new President?
9/7/2009
The operators of SCD Aviation SA, the tourism industry's main private inter-parks airline, are looking toward the new Gabonese government in the hope of restarting negotiations to resolve the ongoing dispute.
Read details
Press release in Word - English version
Communiqué de press - version française

WHAT'S IN STORE FOR GABON'S INTERNATIONAL TOURISM INDUSTRY UNDER THE NEW PRESIDENT?
 

The operators of SCD Aviation SA, the tourism industry's main private inter-parks airline, are looking toward the new Gabonese government in the hope of restarting negotiations to resolve the ongoing dispute.

Prior to the elections, all of the airline's planes were grounded following a disagreement with the interim Gabonese government. Since the beginning of August, international visitors have been unable to reach Loango, the "jewel in the crown" of Gabon's national parks network, as such jeopardising the country's tourism industry.

This conflict, as well as the elections, have already forced its main operator in Loango National Park, Africa's Eden, to temporarily suspend bookings and close its doors to foreign visitors until at least September 20, 2009.
 

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM OPERATIONS SUSPENDED
 

The park receives thousands of visitors each year from Europe, the United States, Africa and elsewhere. "Sadly, due to the disagreement between the interim Gabonese government and SCD SA and the elections, we can currently not guarantee a safe and convenient journey to Loango National Park for our guests," said Catherine Eviter, spokesperson for SCD SA.

She continued that the obstacles imposed by the interim government are deeply disappointing in light of the considerable investments SCD SA has made in Gabon and its tourism industry. Since 2001, SCD SA has invested more than €15 million in the Gabonese economy, created more than 300 jobs, and contributed almost €3 million towards conservation and wildlife research.
 

TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AS A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION & NATURE CONSERVATION
 

The statement from SCD SA added: "We remain positive that this dispute will be resolved promptly and amicably with the new government and that damage to the reputation of Gabon's fledgling international tourism industry can be minimised".

The statement continued: "The development of the national parks and the tourism industry in Gabon are said to be a key priority for the government of Ali Bongo Ondimba, with the aim of creating a sustainable alternative to oil, timber and manganese [a mineral used in steel-making] and to contribute to nature conservation". As Minister of Defence, Ali Bongo joined Britain's Prince Charles in a global campaign to save the world's rainforests and to help in the fight against climate change, in which Gabon plays a central role.

Loango is one of 13 national parks created by the late President Bongo in 2002 to international acclaim from the highest echelons of the conservation world. The move ring-fenced more than 11 per cent of the country for conservation. Dubbed 'Rainforest Africa', this virgin territory offers exceptional biodiversity and is expected to become one of the world's premier destinations for eco-tourism over the next decade.

For further information & images, contact:
Catherine Eviter
catherine.eviter@scd-groupe.com


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Reuters UK reports:
9/4/2009
DAKAR, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Ali Ben Bongo, son of Gabon's long-time ruler Omar Bongo, won an election to succeed his late father with 41.73 percent of the vote, according to results announced by the interior minister on Thursday.
Read details
The announcement came after days of mounting tension after Sunday's election, with two other rival candidates also staking their claim to victory and accusing Ben Bongo of electoral fraud to ensure a dynastic succession from his father.

Here are some possible outcomes as Gabon digests the result:

RIVALS DISPUTE THE ELECTION RESULT

Both ex-interior minister Andre Mba Obame and opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou, placed second and third by the official results, had already declared victory and so are unlikely to accept the outcome without a protest.

They could seek to prove the result is false by publishing returns from polling stations around the country and so try to mount a legal challenge to Ben Bongo's victory. So far, neither has made a clear appeal for their supporters to come out in protest, though in the run-up to the poll, observers and Libreville residents predicted unrest whatever the result.

In the hours after the interior minister announced Bongo's victory, opposition supporters clashed with police in capital Libreville and oil industry hub Port Gentil.

As former defence minister, Bongo is seen as wielding considerable influence over the army, which mitigates against the chances of disgruntled army officers joining forces with politicians to attempt a coup d'etat.

A key feature of Omar Bongo's tenure in power was playing opponents off against each other, which he did using his personal popularity and political acumen. Some observers see the number of opposition candidates who lined up against Ali Bongo, in particular those who quit the PDG to stand against him, as evidence that Bongo induced some candidates to run in order to split the vote against him.

LONG TERM CHALLENGES

Economically, Bongo's biggest challenge is diversifying Gabon's oil-dependent economy. Oil exports have been the mainstay of the country's finances for decades, but unless new discoveries are made soon, shipments and revenues will dwindle over the next 10 years.

The country has abundant supplies of timber and manganese, a mineral used in steel-making, but both are equally as vulnerable to commodity prices cycles as petrochemicals, and prices of all Gabon's major exports dropped sharply when demand fell as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Politically, one of his major tasks will be negating domestic opposition with reduced backing from France. Bongo's father had a strong relationship with successive French presidents, but Nicolas Sarkozy was jeered when he attended Omar Bongo's funeral in June, and has said France would not involve itself with internal Gabonese affairs.

Writing by Mark John and Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Giles Elgood


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NY Times reports:
9/4/2009
LIBREVILLE, Gabon The Bongo family extended its 41-year reign over this resource-rich country on Thursday as the son of Africas longest-serving ruler was declared the winner of a disputed presidential election.
Read details
Scattered protests and violence broke out across this nation of about 1.3 million, an important oil exporter with close ties to France, its former colonial ruler. Backers of two losing candidates set fire to the French Consulate in Gabon’s second-largest city, Port-Gentil, put cars and tires to the torch here in the capital and shouted hostile slogans and threw rocks at French people.

France advised its 10,000 citizens here to stay indoors. Facilities of the French oil company Total were attacked.

Ali Ben Bongo, whose father, Omar Bongo, died in June after ruling for 41 years, was a heavy favorite because of the wealth his family had accumulated after decades in power. The electoral commission said he won with 42 percent of Sunday’s vote, ahead of former Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame, who received 26 percent, and Pierre Mamboundou, a longtime opponent of the Bongos, who got 25 percent.

Mr. Bongo joined the government at an early age, and he has been the foreign minister and most recently the defense minister, in control of the army.

Read further on the New York Times website
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ECO-TOURISM ACTIVITIES SUSPENDED IN LOANGO NATIONAL PARK, GABON
8/19/2009
Africa's Eden is forced to suspend its operations in Loango Lodge for international tourists until at least September 20th, 2009 following dispute between Gabonese government and regional aviation company SCD Aviation
Read details
Gabon, August 2009 – In 2002, late President Omar Bongo Ondimba put Gabon firmly on the map as an important future eco-tourism destination by nominating more than 11% of the nation's territory as National Park to protect its vital rainforest and wildlife like the gorilla, chimpanzee and forest elephant. Seven years later, following the death of the President, a disagreement between the current interim government of Gabon and Société de Conservation et Développement (SCD SA) now prevents the country's main eco-tourism partner Africa's Eden from continuing its conservation-enabling activities in Loango National Park.
"Sadly, due to the dispute between the current Gabonese government and SCD SA, we can no longer guarantee our guests a safe and convenient journey to Loango National Park," said Catherine Eviter, spokesperson for SCD SA. Consequently, Africa's Eden is forced to suspend its operations in Loango Lodge for international tourists until at least September 20th, 2009. She added: "Although our tourism operations will be suspended, we will continue making every effort to ensure there is no negative impact on our conservation projects in and around Loango National Park."

SCD invests largely in Gabon's economy and nature


Société de Conservation et Développement started operations in Gabon in 2001, with the aim of developing low-impact tourism and conservation in Gabon based around the concept of 'tourism pays for conservation'. Africa's Eden is the division that operates Loango Lodge and several eco-camps for tourists to have a unique experience in Gabon, while at the same time contributing to its nature conservation. As 70 percent of Gabon's country is covered by rainforest, an aviation company was started up around the same time to transport guests as well as supplies from the major capitals of West and Central Africa to the national parks in Gabon. Since 2001, SCD SA has invested over 15 million euro in the country's economy and created more than 300 jobs. It has also contributed almost 3 million euro towards conservation and wildlife research, independently and through renowned conservation organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Max Planck Institute.

Grounded aircraft threatens to jeopardise Gabon's tourism industry


At the end of 2008, SCD SA had developed an arrangement with the Gabonese government to restructure its aviation business, which had also grown into a reputable carrier for Gabonese residents and employees of oil companies. However, following the death of His Excellency the late President El Haj Omar Bongo Ondimba on June 8, the interim Gabonese government decided earlier agreements would no longer be honoured, making it impossible for SCD SA to continue operating its aircraft. As a result, passengers as well as supplies can no longer conveniently reach Loango Lodge and the eco-camps. Africa's Eden is considering various possibilities to resolve the situation and will keep clients fully informed of developments. Until that time, tourists cannot be accommodated in Loango Lodge.

Power vacuum in Gabon?
 


The day that the late President's death was confirmed, Hannah Koep, analyst at the Control Risks Group, explained: "Bongo's unexpected departure from office leaves a potentially dangerous power vacuum. Given his highly personalized style of rule, the as-yet unresolved succession question could lead to elite in-fighting and a political crisis." (Source: Reuters, June 8, 2009.) A mere two months later, SCD SA have run into difficulties with the Gabonese government. Did SCD SA get trapped in Hanna's feared power vacuum?

For further information, contact:
Catherine Eviter
catherine.eviter@scd-groupe.com

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Gabonese opposition candidates want presidential vote delayed
8/13/2009
Opposition candidates in Gabon's presidential ballot have banded together to push for a postponement of the vote due to problems with electoral lists, officials said Wednesday.
Read details


The Opposition Speaks out

Jules Aristide Bourdes Ougouliguende and 10 other candidates plan to ask the Gabonese courts to postpone the vote, Bourdes' comments followed a meeting between the candidates along with officials from the government and the presidency.

These 11 candidates are considered the heavyweight opposition candidates in the election which follows the death of Omar Bongo Ondimba, who ruled the country for 41 years.

A total of 23 candidates are in the race, including Bongo's son, Defence Minister Ali Ben Bongo.Prime Minister Paul Biyoghe Mba of the ruling PDG party participated in Wednesday's talks, but ruled out postponing the vote.

 
The candidates other than PDG candidates have made certain requests," he said. "Problems with the reliability of lists, delays ...

 

 






says Prime minister Paul

He continued to claim that some 120,000 duplicate names have so far been discovered on the electoral lists in the country of 1.5 million people, but that the problems were being addressed.


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Gabonese Orphan Gorillas set free on an Island - First ever video footage
8/7/2009
Six young gorillas, rescued from the illegal bush meat trade, have begun new independent lives on a lagoon island just outside Loango National Park in Gabon.
Read details


First Ever footage



First steps into the wild

Staff at the Société de Conservation et Développement (SCD) are celebrating after announcing the successful transfer of the six juvenile western lowland gorillas (a species deemed critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN)) onto the safe island in the Fernan-Vaz Lagoon.


This is the first step in a reintroduction project that is hoped will allow them to return entirely to the wild and follows a three-year-long ‘rehab programme’ to prepare them for release.

One step closer to freedom

Halfway through the Year of the Gorilla, the transfer marks the beginning of the gorillas’ independence. They have exchanged their human-built shelters for the palm-fringed forested islet where they can now live in relative safety from threats from poachers or other predators. The transfer was supervised by the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project (FGVP) director Nick Bachand and his team of Gabonese keepers.

“We all felt a hint of sadness as the gorillas left the place where their journey started,” said Nick Bachand, a veterinarian. “But this was instantly replaced with a mountain of pride when we observed some of the gorillas starting to build their own nests to sleep outside overnight.”

Building self-made nests is an important indication, among others, of the young gorillas’ progress during this second phase of their rehabilitation.
 

Tragic pasts

Each of the six gorillas (three females, three males) varying in ages from two to seven, were orphaned by the illegal bush meat trade.

The oldest male, Gimenu, 7, was rescued in an emaciated state from a Gabonese zoo where he had spent three years in complete isolation. He is accompanied by Sindila, 4, an abandoned male found by tourists on a river excursion, and Ivindo, also 4, flown in from the Ivindo National Park in 2005. The youngest female, Wanga, 2, was left on the doorstep of a conservationist’s home in the southern half of Loango National Park while the other two Cessé and Eliwa, 3 and 2, were donated by another great-ape rescue centre in Gabon.
 

Gorilla orphanage

The gorillas have spent the past two and a half years undergoing daily forest rehabilitation accompanied by their keepers on Evengue Island, located north of Loango National Park.

A small team of local keepers will continue to monitor their progress from a base camp in the central zone of Orique island, where their new home is.

The Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project comprises a Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Programme. All its resident gorillas were rescued after the parents were killed illegally by hunters for bush meat. The purpose of the Sanctuary is to provide a safe home for gorillas that can never return to the wild as they lack the critical survival skills usually taught by their parents in the first six to eight years of their lives.

The younger gorillas are part of its Rehabilitation Programme, however, and have undergone its quarantine and socialisation stages. They now have the potential to be reintroduced into the wild although many challenges and uncertainties remain.

‘Gorilla rehab’ plays strategic role in survival of great apes

The IUCN has identified the use of reintroduction projects as part of a global strategy for the survival of the world’s endangered great apes. The Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) works closely with the Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project and focuses wherever possible on reintroduction programmes.

“We have to find ways to restore value to Africa’s forests, and reintroduction places focus on the African wildlife in the African forests,” said Doug Cress, executive director of PASA.

He added: “It’s no good for any of us to aspire to having the world’s largest captive population of chimpanzees or gorillas – even if we are saving lives. That is not conservation and it is not sending messages that can be translated into environmental action.”

Return to the wild

Thanks to a team of devoted veterinarians, dedicated keepers and the support of the international community, these gorillas' return to the wild in the Gabonese equatorial forest is expected within two to three years.

In the meantime, the project is working hard to raise local and global awareness on issues facing the gorillas, to encourage research that emphasises the needs of the local people, and to integrate responsible tourism, as part of a national and international effort to save the gorilla from extinction in the wild.
The Fernan-Vaz Gorilla Project in Gabon is a project of Société de Conservation et Développement (SCD) in affiliation with its main eco-tourism partner, Africa’s Eden. SCD has partnerships with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Max Planck Institute, the Gabonese Ministry of Forestry, and the Gabonese National Parks Agency (ANPN).

For more information, please visit www.gorillasgabon.com 


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Opposition parties in Gabon elections converge around one candidate
8/3/2009
Five Gabonese opposition parties have nominated Pierre Mamboundou to run for president in this month's elections to succeed the late Omar Bongo Ondimba.
Read details


The opposition's choice

Mamboundou, leader of the Union of Gabonese People, came second to Bongo in elections in 2005. Bongo's son, Defense Minister Ali Bongo Ondimba, is running as the candidate of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party.


 
You have asked for a single candidate for the opposition...I offer you hope, I offer you a new way for Gabon."
 

says Louis-Gaston Mayila, leader of the Union for the New Republic, one of the five parties backing Mamboundou.

Mamboundou has pledged to fight corruption and waste in government and to promote officials based on their expertise rather than their ethnicity. His nomination by the coalition marked the first time that opposition parties have rallied behind one candidate.
Other candidates planning to run for president in the polls scheduled for Aug. 30 include Oil Minister Casimir Oyé Mba, former Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong, who resigned on July 17 to become an independent candidate, and the ex-interior minister, Andre Mba Obame.
 

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Ultimate Africa: Game Rangers on National Geographic Wild UK.
7/27/2009
Join Jean Du plessis as he Journeys through Africa exploring conservation issues that are plaguing the continent today and the efforts of individuals, organisations and governments in tackling the conservation challenges of Africas Wildlife
Read details


Ultimate Africa

Ultimate Africa is a documentary series hosted by South African safari explorer, Jean du Plessis. The show, which consists of nine episodes, takes viewers on a journey through Africa, exploring how anti-poaching efforts, as a part of conservation strategies, are helping to preserve the endangered wildlife and Eco-Systems of many African countries.

In East Africa, Du Plessis begins the journey with an extensive and exhilarating journey starting in Tanzania where the controversial subject of big game hunting for wildlife reserve sustainability is addressed. This Journey takes him through Kenya where he encounters the Masai tribe and learns of their inadvertent role in guarding the Serengeti and its wildlife.

With conservation as his main concern, Jean heads off to Gabon where he explores the efforts of the country to build a solid tourism industry which would in part help conservation activities to be sustainable. In Gabon, Jean visits the majestic Kongou Falls and learns of how recent mining endeavours may threaten the existence of one of Africa's great natural landmarks.

The entire series will air on National Geographic wild in the UK between August 3rd and August 13th.


Episode Title Airing Summary
1 Crosshairs of conservation

Monday,

August 3,
18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

Follow Jean Du Plessis as he journeys through East Africa and investigates the controversial subject of big game hunting

2 Dying Pink

Tuesday,

August 4, 18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

A two-part episode in which Jean examines the conflict surrounding Nartional Parks in Tanzania betwen predators and Masai livestock

3 Ghosts of Udzungwa

Wednesday,

August 5, 18:00,
Nat Geo Wild 
Uk

Jean examines the problems facing primates in Africa as a result of habitat destruction, travelling form the Mahale Mountain to Udzungwa

4 Guradians of The Serengeti Thursday,

August 6,

18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

For the past three hundred years, the Masai tribe of East Africa have protected the Serengeti. jean hikes to the Western boundary to investigate
5 Rhinaos of Ol Pejeta

Friday,
August 7, 18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

Jean heads to Kenya to join an operation to mark and relocate seven endangered rhinos, including one named millenium which has gone missing
6 Lost World of Gabon

Monday, August 10, 18:00,

Nat Geo Wild
Uk

Jean journeys to Gabon in West Africa where the country is developing a tourism industry. He explores wild beaches and visits the Kongou Falls.

7 Fugitives of Laikipia

Tuesday,
August 11, 18:00,

Nat Geo Wild
Uk

In this episode, Jean returns to Ol Pejeta where management are contend with elephants that use their tusks to break through electrified fences and raid crops

8

Shadows of the Serengeti       

Wednesday,
August 12,
18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

Jean delves into the world of anti-poaching, looking at the efforts of the FCF team in the Maswa Game Reserve in Tanzania

9

Journeys into the Bush

Thursday,
August 13,
18:00,
Nat Geo Wild
Uk

In this episode, Jean takes viewers to some of his favorite spots in Tanzania, but his trip is put in Jeopardy by the eruption of the Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano



For details of the show and its airing, visit National Geographic Wild




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Gabon Government announces list of presidential candidates
7/24/2009
Gabon which is currently ruled by interim president Rose Francine Rongombe, will see at least 23 candidates run for its official presidential elections in August following the death of former president Omar Bongo Ondimba
Read details


Candidates made public

Included in the list of 23 candidates is the name of Ali Ben Bongo, son of the late president of Gabon. Ali was chosen to represent the nations leading party, the Gabonese Democratic Party, earlier this month. Mr Bongo, who will maintain his position as Defence Minister until the August 30 elections, has expressed his desire to see a free and fair election and to redistribute Gabon’s wealth.


 
We stopped taking files at 18:00 as planned…We received about 30, which is several more than the number of people who have publicly come out with their presidential ambitions 
 

Says a CENAP source

A total of 30 candidates presented their candidacy for the upcoming elections. Gabon’s National Elections Commission, however rejected the applications of several candidates including some of those who tried to run as independents after falling out with their parties.



 

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Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa now offering flights on routes to Africa including Gabon.
7/21/2009
Both airline companies have agreed to launch joint-flights to the African continent in a bid to expand their flight network on the continent.
Read details


New flight possibilities

Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa will increasingly offer long-haul flights with Lufthansa passengers benefiting form a wider choice of destinations. The long-haul flights will include the Brussels airline route from Brussels to Entebbe, Uganda as well as the new Lufthansa connection from Frankfurt to Libreville, Gabon.
 
Lufthansa passengers will thus be allowed to fly to Entebbe via Brussels with a Lufthansa flight number. Lufthansa will not be offering its own flights to this destination in Uganda. Brussels airline passengers can also be allowed to fly from Brussels via Frankfurt to Libreville, Gabon.Members of the frequent flyer programmes of both airlines– Miles & More and Privilege – can already collect miles for all flights operated by Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa and redeem them for the corresponding flights.

For details please visit our transportation page
 


Hide newsitem
Gabons National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENAP), proposes timetabel for elections.
7/20/2009
The countrys National Autonomous Electoral Commission has come up with a timetable for elections which it proposed to the Government late last week.
Read details

Election date set

The election date has been scheduled for Sunday, August 30 2009. The date has been approved by the country’s Council of Ministers. Several political parties have already announced various candidates who will be representing them. The son of late president Omar Bongo Ondimba has been nominated to represent the Gabonese national party as candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.

 
I am aware of the legitimate concerns of the people and pledge to redistribute the proceeds of economic growth and fight corruption and fraud
 

Says presidential candidate Ali Bongo Ondimba

Reactions to his candidature were received with cheers among hundreds of delegates who attended the ceremony. Gabonese prime minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong has officially resigned in protest of his party’s choice of the son of late president Omar Bongo. Ndong will run as an Independent.

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Gabons elections to be held no later than September 6, 2009
7/9/2009
The elections to determine the Gabon's next president must be held by 6 September at the latest, the West African nations constitutional court declared.
Read details


Countdown to elections

A poll originally due to be held within 45 days of the appointment of an interim president on 10 June, was turned down by all main political parties in the oil-exporting state who argued that organizing an election in such a small timeframe would have presented great difficulties in organizing ballots for the country’s 1.5 million citizens eligible to vote.

Amidst these doubts, the government turned to the court affirming the need for additional preparations and demanding more time to prepare for polls. In its verdict, the court took into account the untimely death of the former president and the time invested in state funerary arrangements. The court ruled that elections should be held no later than the 6th of september 2009.

 
These unforeseeable events constitute a case of force majeure...the delay will leave enough time to collate voter lists and make other preparations.
 
 
says Madeleine Mborantsuo, president of the court

Bongo's son, defense Minister Ali Ben Bongo, is widely tipped to follow his father into power, but the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party has yet to select a candidate.
President Bongo was Africa's longest-serving leader when he died after more than four decades in power, during which he became one of the continent's richest

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Gabon authorities present vote Plans to political parties
7/7/2009
Gabon's government has submitted plans for a timetable ahead of presidential elections to the political parties in the country, officials said Thursday.
Read details

Delayed Elections

Gabon's Interior Ministry has drawn up a plan to revise the electoral rolls in the country between July 4 and July 14, with a further period for corrections to be made before the lists are put to the National Electoral Commission, on July 28.

 

Interior Minister Jean-François Ndongou met politicians Wednesday to discuss this timetable with them. Gabon is still in mourning for President Omar Bongo Ondimba, who was Africa's longest-serving head of state when he died last month after ruling the oil-rich nation for 41 years. A political transition began when Senate speaker Rose Francine Rogombe was sworn in as interim president July 10, two days after Bongo's death in a Spanish private clinic was announced.

In principle, elections are due within 45 days of the swearing in of such an interim leader, but politicians across the board have agreed that this period isn't long enough. Decisions on prolonging the transition are in the hands of the Constitutional Court and no date has yet been set. However, Rogombe Thursday spoke of extending the transition period by 60 days during an interview she gave to Radio France Internationale from Sirte in Libya, where she is attending an African Union summit.

Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong has recently indicated that he would be a candidate, while lawmaker and former government minister Daniel Ona Ondo has openly placed himself in the running. Other likely candidates include the late Bongo's son, Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba, who is minister of defense, and the former minister of mines, oil and hydrocarbons Casimir Oye Mba.

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Gabon's opposition calls for the presidential polls to be postponed
6/25/2009
The Gabonese Union for Democracy and Development party, has expressed doubts that the vote could be held on time.
Read details


Possible Election Delay

Zacharie Myboto, leader of the Union for Democracy and Development party believes that the elections could face a delay of as much as 6 months. According to the constitution, interim president Rose Rogombe, who took up office on June 10, has a maximum of 45 days after becoming acting head of state in which to organize elections. The constitution only allows for an extension in extreme cases.

Even Gabonese Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong acknowledged that it will not be possible to hold the presidential election at the end of July, the constitutional deadline.

 
We believe that within five months at the minimum, or six months maximum, we should be able to organise a free, transparent and credible election.
 
says Jean Ndong, Gabon's acting prie minister.

Observers and the country's political parties think it may be necessary to delay the ballot to allow time to update Gabon's voters' rolls to allow for a smooth running of elections.

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Portuguese National airline offering flights to Sao Tome and Principe
6/24/2009
Air Portugal announces that it has added nine new flight destinations to various African countries
Read details


New routes

The additional nine flights added by the Portuguese national carrier will target destinations of Luanda-Angola, Dakar-Senegal, Praia-Cape Verde and São Tomé over the summer. Three additional flights will be available per week to Luanda, Angola, in an effort to boost flight traffic between portugal and the African continent.

Between Portugal’s capital Lisbon and Praia in Cape Verde, the airline will also be offering three additional flights meaning an increase in the service of at least one flight per day.

 
With this boost to links between Portugal and Africa, TAP continues with its focus on taking advantage of opportunities in markets with potential for growth




 
says an official statement from the airline.

This operation of a daily flight to Cape Verde began on June 8 and is due to last until September 12 to satisfy demand for this route during the summer period. Between the July 23 and September 3 extra flights will be offered to Dakar on a weekly basis and between July 6 and September 14 an extra flight per week will be organized for destinations São Tomé and Principe.
Additional information can be viewed on the company's website.
 

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Lufthansa expands services to Libreville, Gabon
6/22/2009
The airline company is expanding its network of services in west central Africa and is including a new route to the capital of Gabon, Libreville.
Read details


New Routes

Starting off from the 15th of July 2009, the airline will offer flights five times every week (excluding Fridays and Sundays) from Frankfurt, flying via Accra-Ghana to Libreville. This latest addition would mean that a total of 16 destinations across Africa are now offered to customers.

 
Our route network is growing steadily, particularly in West and Central Africa…only last year we added two new destinations – Malabo in Equatorial Guinea and the Angolan capital Luanda – to our schedule. A few days ago, we increased our frequencies to Angola to two flights per week









Says Karl Ulrich Garnadt Executive Vice President, Lufthansa.

The new route will be operated by Airbus A340 and A330 aircraft with a First, Business und Economy Class cabin. In addition, from 1 July 2009, the airline will be serving Accra five times a week non-stop, rather than with a stopover in Lagos, Nigeria. Including the SWISS destinations Douala and Yaounde (both in Cameroon), Lufthansa customers have a choice of 31 flights per week to eight destinations in this dynamic economic region in West and Central Africa.

The company will be offering a return ticket from Frankfurt to Libreville for just 949 euros and would apply to Economy class with taxes, charges and the Lufthansa ticket service charge of 15 euros, provided the booking is made via their online service. Detailed information can be viewed on the company’s website.




 

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Gabon's transition government is established
6/22/2009
The members of Gabon's transition government have been appointed by interim president Rose Rogombe
Read details


Gabon prepares for elections

Gabon's interim president, Mrs. Rose Francine Rogombé on Friday June 19, made public the names of the members of the transition government to lead Gabon until after the presidential election.According to the Gabonese constitution, presidential elections should be held within 45 days after the swearing-in of an interim president.

Former prime minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong, who announced the resignation of the government hours earlier, was re-elected to his position, along with other ministers though some of them changed portfolios and acting responsibilities.

Ali Bongo Ondimba, son of the late president, will continue his duties as the National Defense Minister, while one of his close associates, Home Affairs Minister André Mba Obame was transferred to the Ministry of National Coordination and Moritoring of Government Action.He changed duties with Jean François Ndongou, who held the portfolio of Relations with Parliament and Constitutional Institutions.


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Late President Omar Bongo to be interred
6/18/2009
The late Gabonese president, who passed away on Tuesday June 8 in a private clinic in spain, is set to be interred in Franceville, Ogooue- his region of origin.
Read details


Final resting place

Tuesday, June 16, marked the state funeral that saw scores of foreign dignitaries and heads of states from other African nations paying their respects to the deceased President. Libreville was packed with well-wishers from all over the country expressing grief and sadness over the loss of the one whom many called father of the nation.
 

 

Thousands of mourners followed the cortege from the presidential palace to the seaside parade grounds and then to the Libreville international airport where the remains of the man who ruled Gabon for 41 years would be flown to Franceville, his final home. His interment, scheduled to take place on Thursday 18 June 2009 at 11h00, will be a private ceremony attended only by the late president’s family.

Gabon will follow an official 30 days of mourning in the president’s memory after which elections should be organized. Interim president, Rose Rogombe is scheduled to organize official elections 45 days after her appointment to determine Gabon’s next president.

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President Nicholas Sarkozy of France to attend Omar Bongo's Funeral
6/16/2009
Nikolas Sarkozy along with foreign dignitaries will join the leaders of up to a dozen other African nations to mourn the passing of Gabon's president, Omar Bongo Ondimba.
Read details


The French president is slated to fly in to Libreville, Tuesday June 16 in time for the start of funeral proceedings that will lead up to the late president’s burial on Thursday June 18.

Sarkozy’s presence at the funeral negates claims that the relationship between the two nations, France and Gabon, had been permanently marred after a formal enquiry on corruption charges was made by a French Judge on Bongo’s investments abroad.

 
It is a big and faithful friend of France who has died, a great African figure and a president who knew how to show esteem and respect to all his peers, particularly for his numerous initiatives for peace on the African continent
 

says French president Nikolas Sarkozy.

Elsewhere around the world, Gabonese communities living abroad are all voicing their solidarity with the nation during this great loss. The Gabonese community in France welcomes well wishers to attend the church service in honor of the late president, Omar Bongo. The service will take place on June 19 at 18h15 at the following address:

Cathedrale Notre Dame 6,
parvis Notre-Dame Place JEAN-PAUL II,
75004 Paris.


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The remains of Gabon's late president are brought home
6/12/2009
The remains of late president, Omar Bongo, were flown into the capital Libreville yesterday, June 11, 2009
Read details


Gabon grieves

Present on the arrival of the Spanish air force flight bearing the late president’s body, were thousands of people who had gathered to pay their respects. Among these were the military and administrative branches of the government as well as family members.
The late president’s burial is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16 and will be characterized by the presence of dignitaries from many nations who are expected to attend.

 
We are weeping for our papa, we wish him peace, the peace he always wished for us, for Gabon
 

says a shopkeeper in Libreville, reflecting the mood of the people of Gabon visibly moved by Bongo’s passing.

With interim president, Rose Rogombe appointed to lead the country through this difficult transition, the country is now poised for 30 days of mourning that will begin with the late president's body lying in state at the presidential palace.

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Gabon welcomes first ever female president
6/11/2009
As decreed by the country's constitution, Gabon's first ever female president, senate speaker Rose Rogombe, has been sworn in as interim president
Read details
 

Gabon looks to the future

Following the death of Gabon’s president, the constitution stipulates the appointment of the senate speaker to the role of president within a timeframe of 45 days within which the deceased president is mourned and elections to determine the next president are organised. This latest development has eliminated fears of a power vacuum that could exist if the presidency was left vacant for too long.

The news of Mrs. Rogombe’s appointment was received well with the Gabonese people and the international community. 

 
I swear to devote all my strength to the good of the Gabonese people
 





Rogombe who is 66, will have most of the presidential powers of an elected or appointed president except for the authority to call for the parliament's dissolution or to organize referendums. She will also be ineligible to run for the forthcoming presidential elections scheduled within the next 45 days.

Focus within the country is now shifting towards the funeral proceedings of the late president. National and international tributes will be paid until June 18
 

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Latest developments on the death of Gabon's President, Omar Bongo
6/10/2009
Gabon re-opens its borders and airports as situation remains calm in the capital, Libreville
Read details

Latest developments


Following the death of Gabon’s head of state Omar Bongo, Senate Speaker Rose Francine Rogombe has been scheduled to act as president of the country during the transition to power to be determined by upcoming elections. The elections should take place in the next 30 to 45 days as stipulated by the country’s constitution.

The Country has also reopened its borders to international travel and so far, no negative travel advice has been given. Africa’s Eden advises individuals to regularly check the travel advice of their country's ministry of foreign affairs.We do not expect Tourism in the country to be affected but will keep you abreast on any new developments. There will be an official mourning period of 30 days before the scheduled elections and brief details of the President’s funeral can be seen below. For enquiries and recent developments, do not hesitate to contact us.

Summary of Late President Omar Bongo’s Funeral
Thursday June 11 2009
15h30
: Arrival of remains from Barcelona (Spain)

-Family and military final salute

Friday June 12 2009
-National mourning

Saturday June 13 2009
-Religious ceremonies

Sunday 14 June 2009-Monday 15 June 2009
-Administrative and political salute and ceremonies

Tuesday 16 June 2009
-Foreign administrative branches final salute
-Government’s final salute
-Military demonstrations

15h30- flight carrying remains of president leaves for Mvengue
Wednesday 17 June 2009
-National Mourning all day

Thursday 18 June 2009
10h00- Final family rites and interment.

 Complete schedule of the funeral.




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Reuters - Comment on the death of Gabon's President Omar Bongo
6/9/2009
Below is comment on the death of Gabon's President Omar Bongo, Africa's longest serving ruler, in a Spanish clinic on Monday.

Read details

HANNAH KOEP, ANALYST, CONTROL RISKS GROUP

"Bongo's unexpected departure from office leaves a potentially dangerous power vacuum. Given his highly personalized style of rule, the as-yet unresolved succession question could lead to elite infighting and a political crisis. Increased strategic maneuvering in the close circle around Bongo has been apparent for several months.

"The question is whether the players have interests in sticking to the constitution. It will all depend on how the power play plays out within the clan.

"Given that Bongo has successfully balanced and minimized potential ethnic and regional tensions, large-scale unrest or violence is unlikely. However, the unresolved succession issue creates some uncertainty given that unconstitutional, or even nominally democratic, family succession has led to significant turmoil in other sub-regional countries, such as Togo.

"There does not appear to be an immediate risk of unrest for the moment. Because of years of Bongo co-opting opposition candidates, there is no genuine opposition left that would make people come out onto the streets in protest. But if they go to elections and the family clan is busy fighting each other, a more genuine opposition could emerge."

STRAFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE

"Even though there is no clear successor to Bongo, there are two leading candidates. One is Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba, Bongo's 50-year-old son and defense minister of Gabon. The second candidate is Vice President Didjob Divungi Di Ndinge. Ndinge has chaired cabinet meetings in Libreville during Bongo's absence, though he has not assumed an official capacity as acting president. Officials from the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) are likely negotiating who will succeed Bongo, and in the short-term this transition is likely to be smooth, with factions within the PDG working to safeguard their positions.

"In the mid- to long-term, the PDG could fray, causing national unrest, with no historic central figure able to impose authority amid competing factions.

"Though relations with France under (President Nicolas) Sarkozy are not as extensive as they were during France's Gaullist era, the Gabonese government post-Bongo will still rely on French military and economic know-how."

OFFICE OF FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY

"We have lost a great and faithful friend of France, a great figure of Africa and a head of state who won the esteem and respect of all his peers, notably through his numerous initiatives in favor of peace on the African continent."

Read more on Reuters


Hide newsitem
First ever footage taken of Red-capped mangabey sleeping in the wild
5/27/2009
In an upcoming BBC 1 TV broadcast, a primatologist, writer and camera man, team up and take to the heights of Gabon's rainforest in a bid to study the little-known Mangabey monkeys.
Read details

 

Living with Monkeys-Tales from the Treetops

Primatologist Dr Julie Anderson, writer and adventurer Guy Grieve, and cameraman Gavin Thurston have been involved in a 5 week endeavour characterised by living in a tree house up in the thick rainforests of Gabon. In the trees and away from the diverse and unpredictable wildlife that roams the rainforest floor below, the team locates the main feeding zone of a group of red-capped Mangabey monkeys and captures never before seen footage of these primates sleeping in the wild.
 
We've been at this for weeks... finally, I've got mangabeys right above my head, totally relaxed.

 
 
says Dr Julie Anderson.

The red-capped Mangabey also known as the collared or cherry-crowned mangabey, is a highly elusive species of primate that are mostly located in the rainforests of west central Africa-from western Nigeria through Cameroon and Gabon. Not much is known about these monkeys and a study of their behaviour in the wild is even more dire as their populations are threatened by habitat loss from deforestation and other agro-industrial activities.

Living with monkeys-Tales form the Treetops will air on June 9th and 10th on BBC. Details on exact airtime are still to be released.


 

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Gabonese writer and poet, Jimmy Mapango, releases new book.
4/23/2009
In his new book, "Gabon decrepitude, je reve pour notre Afrique", Jimmy Mapango talks about the necessity for an African renaissance and how mismanagement and irresponsibility affects Gabon and Africa as a whole.
Read details


Writer, poet and activist

Thierry jimmy Mapango is a long time activist and member of the international coalition; publish what you pay for. He has been involved directly in a call for greater government transparency in the issuing of contracts to foreign companies who tend to exploit the country’s natural resources at the expense of the Gabonese people and their environmental heritage.

Working closely with Goldman Environmental Prize winner, Marc Ona, Jimmy Mapango has a gone a long way to impact his country’s approach to dealing with foreign interests in its natural resources. In his work, he sounds off warnings that include the attribution of only 15% of all of Gabon's Belinga mining project profits to the country while a shocking 85% would go to China.

His book, published on the 15th of April 2009 on thebookedition.com, tells the story of the Gabonese people and their response to projects granted to foreign companies that fail to be economically sustainable for them and further destroy their environmental and natural heritage.



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Davina Bosanquet is shortlisted for the Wildlife Artist of the year Award 2009.
4/15/2009
Following her breathtaking paint project as artist-in-residence at the Loango National Park in Gabon, the UK- based portraitist and illustrator has been shortlisted among a group of finalists for the wildlife Artist of the year Award 2009.
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Artist of the Pristine world

The Award, presented by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), rewards artists with the best representation of wildlife as seen in their natural environment. All profit from the subsequent sale of the artist’s work are reinvested to help save wildlife.

Davina , who had spent some time in Kenya, found wildlife in Gabon more exciting to work with because of the fact that west African wildlife resides deep in the rainforests and thick bushes. Contrary to Southern African Wildlife, which reside in more open and easily accessible savannah’s, locating and painting Gabon’s wildlife became a sort of treasure hunt for her.

Her relationship with Africa’s Eden and their Loango national park project began when Rombout Swanborn-director of Africa’s Eden, was impressed by her portfolio and invited her to visit the natural reserve on an even longer stay. Granted full access to the reserve’s wildlife, savannahs and lagoons, Davina worked on for 6 weeks coming up with breathtaking artwork for which she could soon be given credit for if awarded Artist of the year, 2009.

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Africa's Eden announces new look & features on website
3/26/2009
Africas Eden officially announces the introduction of an all new press room and new and interactive features on its website. The site www.africas-eden.com will retain its wealth of information and services on exclusive tours in the west central Africa region.
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New, interactive website

Recently, Africa’s Eden launched its new website with an updated look and an expanded and more dynamic description of its tourism, research and conservation activities in west central Africa.

 
Your website looks REALLY good, perhaps the best I have seen (in all kinds of fields), and downloads without delay!

– John Kingston, travel editor from the UK
 
 
Must say, took a quick look at the AE website, WOW! Fantastic job!!!

- Michael Dalton-Smith, Ultimate Africa Wildlife Adventure Series

Additional new features include a video section that will be updated over time to provide a more descriptive and animated representation of Africa’s Eden activities, and a section containing guest images & feedback of each of our tours.


Press Corner

Today, Africa’s Eden also launches an all new Press Corner where members of the press can access specific information on Africa’s Eden, with the inclusion of a press archive, details on press trips, a Fact sheet and Directory of Experts.

Exclusive tours to pristine places in west central Africa

West central Africa is one of the few regions on earth to have remained relatively pristine to this date. Africa’s Eden with its ‘small-scale, high-end’ approach to tourism focuses on reinvesting profits of low-impact tourism in the region to ensure the continuity and economically sustainable preservation of the region’s natural environment.

Africa’s Eden is a Tour Operator and Ground Operator, with its own accommodations in west central Africa. Africa’s Eden arranges exclusive trips to the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic, Loango National Park in Gabon and the islands of São Tomé & Príncipe.

Download Word file here


For more information / images

Ms. Tienke Vermeiden


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Gabonese First lady laid to rest
3/23/2009
Gabon's first lady Edith Lucie Bongo was buried Sunday 22nd of March in Edou, Congo
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Final Resting Place

Gabon’s first lady Edith Lucie Bongo was interred Sunday 22nd of March, in her home country, the Republic of the Congo. Thousands of mourners attended her burial including her bereaved husband and Gabonese head of state, Omar Bongo as well as the heads of state of the Central African republic, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, democratic republic of Congo and Togo amongst others.

The first lady passed away in Rabat, Morocco on the 14th of March after a prolonged illness. Her burial saw the laying of hundreds of roses by mourners on her coffin as she was laid to rest in the family burial crypt.

Edith Bongo who married President Omar Bongo in 1990, will be remembered for her campaign against AIDS and her many efforts in building foundations to support vulnerable children and people afflicted with disabilities.

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South Africa's VOETSPORE team journeys from Gansbaai to Gabon
3/19/2009
The Voetspore team of 6 involved in last years Cape Town to Kilimanjaro-Kilimanjaro to Cairo expedition is at it again!
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This year the Team journeyed from Gansbaai-bay of geese; one of the southern tips of south Africa, through the Kalahari desert, the Namibian West, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo up until Gabon.
 

Armed with Nissan 4x4 vehicles*, the team wound its way through one of the continent’s most unforgiving terrains battling anything from Angola’s notorious Ninja gang, to driving through one of the biggest rainforests in the world.

The team’s journey goes to Gabon, popularly coined Africa’s Last Eden. At the Loango National Park, with the hospitality of Africa’s Eden, they encounter forest elephants, forest buffalos, red river hogs and slender-snouted crocodiles which make up part of the fauna in one of Africa’s least known yet environmentally pristine locations.
 

The epic journey of the Voetspore team to Gabon, São Tomé & Príncipe can be viewed on the SABC 2 channel on Friday March 20, March 27, April 3 at 18:00. Reruns air on Wednesday May 27, June 3 and June 19 at 14:30. For details, see below.

* In Loango National Park, they had to exchange their 4x4 for a boat, as roads are few and rivers are numerous! 

Voetspore’s journey was supported by Africa’s Eden (www.africas-eden.com), a tour operator and ground operator, with its own accommodations in west central Africa. Africa’s Eden arranges exclusive trips to Loango National Park in Gabon and the islands of São Tomé & Príncipe, and recently also the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in the Central African Republic.

Voetspore Episodes coming up on South African National Television...

 
Episode Title Airing Summary
24 São Tomé

Friday,

March 27, 18:00, SABC 2

The Voetspore team flies over to Sao Tome, about 250 kilometer from the mainland.

When Portugese explorers discovered Sao Tome and Principe in the 15th century, these islands - located on the equator - were uninhabited. Here the established a roaring cacao and coffee trade. Today this trade is barely alive but what remained is signs of past splendour.
 
25 Príncipe

Friday,

April 3, 18:00, SABC2

Bom Bom, the resort on the island Príncipe, is one of the primary fishing locations in the world.

It's a beautiful island with exotic plants and exquisite birdlife. But the team was at Bom Bom to fish. In one day, they managed to hook eleven marlins! What an experience.
21 - Repeat Slender nosed crocodiles & Gorillas

Friday,

May 13, 14:30,

SABC 2

Gabon is known for its exotic animal species...

The team visits Loango National Park, and during a trip down one of the many rivers they encouter the slender-nose crocodiles. They also visit a church, designed and built by the French engineer Gustav.
22 - Repeat Elephants Friday

May 20,

14:30,

SABC 2

Gabon, located on the equator, is a country with one of the densest forests in the world.

In these forests, the Voetspore team found the forest elephant. The elephants are smaller than the African elephant and their shoulders a bit lower than their backs, which enables them to move through the dense forests. The team went in search of these wonderful creatures, and at the same time also witnessed an amazing birdlife.
23 - Repeat Red River Hogs Wednesday

May 27, 14:30,

SABC 2

The Voetspore team is exploring Loango National Park.
 

In this park there are water buffalo and red river hogs that the team have never seen before. After a night's camping on the beach, they see these strange hogs the next morning on the beach,looking for roots and chasing crabs. A wonderful sight.  
24 - Repeat Sao Tome

Wednesday

June 3, 14:30,

SABC 2

 
25 - Repeat Principe

Wednesday June 19, 14:30,

SABC 2,

 






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Gabonese First Lady passes away
3/15/2009
Africa's Eden presents its sincere sympathies to the president of the Gabonese Republic, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba , and to the Gabonese people, on the loss of the First Lady, Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba.
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Candle in the wind

Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba, Gabon’s First lady, passed away last Saturday in Morocco after a protracted illness.

 

The eldest daughter to President Denis Sassou Nguessou of the Republic of Congo and wife of Gabon’s president Omar Bongo, Edith Lucie Bongo died at 16:20 GMT in Rabat, Morocco where she had been following treatment on a protracted illness for several months

A trained paediatrician and best known for her commitment to fighting AIDS as well as her efforts in creating foundations for vulnerable and handicapped children, Edith Bongo; born March 10 1964, had not made any public appearance for over 3 years.

Our hearts go out to her family and the people of Gabon during this difficult time and we hope that your memories of her live on and help in easing the pain of your loss.

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The reality Tv show, Survivor Gabon - Earth's last eden, has its new winner.
1/1/2009
The reality TV show Survivor Gabon took place in the country Gabon for its 2008 Season. Gabon a small west African country located on the Atlantic Coast in the central part of the African continent is known for its record number of natural reserves created to preserve the lush, unexplored forests and the wildlife that resides therein.
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Sole survivor

Survivor Gabon - Earth’s last Eden, was the seventeenth season of the American reality TV show, Survivor. 18 contestants were selected out of 800 applicants to be part of an ‘extreme’ experience which characterizes the Survivor show. Of all these contestants, only one could be allowed to go home with a 1 million dollar cash prize.

The show is characterized by contestants being left to fend for themselves in the wilderness to win cash and other prizes. The show makes use of progressive elimination, which allows contestants to eliminate other members by vote up until a final contestant is left standing and claims the title of sole survivor.

Survivor Gabon, was filmed around late June 2008, in Gabon’s Wonga-Wongue presidential reserve, one of the 13 national parks of Gabon- home to lowland gorillas, antelopes, hippos, chimpanzees and elephants. The contestants also visited the Evengué island, a sanctuary and reintroduction centre to western lowland gorillas orphaned by the bush meat trade- a project supported by Africa’s Eden.

The competition was no ball in the park for all 18 contestants. Gabon is home to one of the most diverse and dangerous wildlife on earth. Danger lurked around every corner with the presence of tropical diseases, poisonous snakes, bugs and spiders. Gabon’s Hippos, Buffalos and Gorillas are not habituated to major human activity in the area either and as such extreme caution had to be taken whenever the animals came too close to the cast and vice versa.

Survivor Gabon culminated with Bob Crowley outlasting all other contestants to become the ultimate survivor. Crowley, a 57 year old physics teacher from Portland, U.S.A,  who was voted favorite contestant on the show by viewers, won the million dollar cash prize.




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Africas Eden wins The British Guild of Travel Writers Award 2008
11/15/2008
Africas Eden, operator of Loango National Park in Gabon, has been named the winner of the British Guild of Travel Writers Best New Overseas Project Award 2008. To achieve this international prize, it had to prove it was of social and economic benefit and had management policies which minimise adverse environmental impacts.
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Breaking new ground

Tourism was almost unknown in Gabon when Loango National Park began as a pilot project by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Africa’s Eden. Its overriding ethos was ‘ecotourism pays for conservation’.

It followed the bold decision by Gabon's President Bongo in 2002 to designate 11 percent of his country as national parkland. Only Costa Rica had set aside more land. In 2007, Loango launched, opening the doors to 'Rainforest Africa'.

A mosaic of grassland, rivers, forest and mangroves, Loango offers a unique safari experience on the African continent because the wildlife is so spectacularly varied – with whales, elephants, hippos, leopards, reptiles and primates galore.

Visitors are accommodated in the eco-friendly Loango Lodge and five satellite
tented camps and wildlife viewing is small scale with pirogue trips, forest treks or savannah drives. “We will never have 20 Jeeps around a waterhole shining lights into animals' eyes,” says Rombout Swanborn, Director of Africa’s Eden.

Five hundred Gabonese live in the area and nearly 100 have gained employment as ecoguides etc. Local farmers and fishermen now sell their produce to the lodge while their children study in a new school built by the park. “Loango is a shining example of how ecotourism can bring benefit to a community and promote conservation,” says Sarah Monaghan, Editor of Gabon Magazine.
 

A pioneering project

It is also an important base for scientific research, funded by tourism. NGOs such as the WWF are studying its whales, elephants and turtles while primatologists have begun a pioneering project to habituate endangered western lowland gorillas to tourists. Now the Wildlife Conservation Society is proposing the park as aWorld Heritage Site. As Lee White, Conservation Director for Central Africa, says:

 
Loango is an unmatched example of conservation on the back of a well-organised tourism infrastructure. It really is a model park.
 
Founded in 1960, the British Guild of Travel Writers is the premier association
for travel publication professionals in the United Kingdom. It comprises some 300
writers, editors, photographers, producers, radio and television presenters.

The British Guild of Travel Writers makes three annual awards for tourism projects:
  • Best UK Tourism Project
  • Best Overseas Tourism Project
  • Globe Award for Best Worldwide Tourism Project
Nominators are asked to provide evidence that the project is of social and
economic benefit to the local community and that it has management policies
which minimise adverse environmental impacts in matters such as waste, energy,
water use and transport. Projects are also expected to protect or harmonise with the cultural, built and natural environment.
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Gabon and the Geotourism challenge
6/6/2008
The Geotourism Challenge is one of the key programs of National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD).
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Making a difference

The National Geographic Society and Ashoka's changemakers were the brainchild behind last year's Geotourism competition that saw the shortlisting of Gabon's Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in partnership with Africa's Eden, on a list of 15 finalists.

The Geotourism challenge competition culminated in a victory for:

  • a programme in the Ecuador Amazon region to provide the youth with an academic degree in nature tourism;
  • an outfitter in Nepal that trains women to be trekking professionals in a culture that offers almost no job opportunities to women;
  • and an eco-lodge in Costa Rica that teaches native Cabecar Indians how to manage business in one of the country’s celebrated rain forests.
 
The goal of the Geotourism Challenge is to identify and showcase innovators, individuals and organizations that support the approach known as geotourism: tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place; its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
 

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