Tour operators in Africa insist that recent media reports that Victoria Falls is at risk of drying up, well, don't hold water. And they have the data to back it up.
The African Travel and Tourism Association reported that although climate change is a growing concern on a global level and that it is potentially having an impact on countries throughout the world, what has been lacking in the media reports is an insight into the historical seasonal patterns and the resultant changes in water flow that are vital pieces of information to ensure a clear perspective is maintained.
The association said that the seasonal rise and fall of the Zambezi River changes the look of Victoria Falls on a daily basis. The western side of the falls is lower than the eastern side and therefore carries the most water all year round.
Historical data provided by the Zambezi River Authority, which monitors the water level flows in the region daily, provide evidence that the annual mean water levels of the river have in fact been lower in at least six similar periods dating back to 1914.
While Zimbabwe has indeed experienced an extensive drought over the course of this year, the water levels of the Zambezi and indeed the flow levels over Victoria Falls, have remained above those recorded over the drought period of 1995-96, the association said.
Current records from the Zambezi River Authority are showing that water levels are once again on a consistent rise. Water has started to flow once again over certain points along the eastern cataract of Victoria Falls (the dry portion or cliff-face of Victoria Falls that has been pictured in all recent media reports).
Marcelo Novais, general manager of Ker & Downey Africa, said many travelers have changed their travel plans and canceled their trips with short notice as a result of the recent media reports, which contain false information.
Said Novais: "Following seasonal patterns, from the months of October to December each year, the water levels of the Zambezi decline. The Eastern lip of the falls is slightly elevated, and therefore the fluctuation in the water level is more noticeable and often exposes a dry rockface. However, the Main Falls or the Western Cataract continue to flow strongly."