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Victoria Falls marathon offers hope to community.

ZIMBABWE'S answer to ecotourism is an international marathon at Victoria Falls on August 23. Themed 'Come and Run in a New Zimbabwe', in past years proceeds have gone to AIDS orphans in the area, and this year schools in the Victoria Falls township of Chinotimba are set to benefit. Tourism companies Wild Frontiers, Wild Horizons and Safari Par Excellence supported by the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe pledged to show commitment to the New Zimbabwe and it's people by offering a full marathon, a half marathon and a five kilometre fun run. The marathon crosses the Victoria Falls bridge and into neighbouring Zambia, and runs relatively flatly through a National Park and World Heritage Site. Organisers are still seeking sponsors and planning for 1,000 participants. Operated to International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standards, packages for the marathon are available via reservations@wildfrontiers.com Many travel companies or hotels based in the Victoria Falls contribute towards community efforts. Another project was created by Shearwater and Rani Resorts along with safari guides from the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve. Called Wisdom 4 Wildlife Trust, pupils aged around 13 years are given educational programmes about wildlife and plants, so allowing the youngsters to understand the importance of wildlife to the economy and the community. The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge also contributes to conservation having formed, along with local safari operator Charles Brightman, an anti poaching unit. The unit works with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in preventing wood and mammal poaching and snaring. Some ex offenders, now realising the commercial value of managing the environment and its wildlife thanks to education by the unit, earn a living using legitimate wood and making carvings for sale to tourists. The unit is supported by tourism organisations based in the area but has to now seek international private funding as operational costs have become unmanageable.

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Publication:Travel & Tourism News
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:337
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