Wadjemup Rites of Passage and New Opportunities for Adventure

There’s a little island off the coast that for quite some time now has attracted Western Australians, other Australians and increasingly the international traveller seeking a genuine sand-in-your-toes destination or maybe just an insta-worthy-pic with the worlds cutest animal.

Wadjemup (Rottnest) has just taken a couple of Red Bulls and is revved up for a summer that can still remain laid back or it can put you on your back with exhaustion.

Skydiving, fishing tours for kids, water parks, walking tours and new facilities like refreshment vans on the west end of the island now mean you don’t need to carry litres of water on your bike (plus, always remember that the various tour sites with volunteer guides carry lots of water that you can use to top up your water bottle ….. for free).

Tom and I began our day a bit differently for a trip to Wadjemup.  Rather than Barrack Street, Freo or Hillarys, we head to the South Perth foreshore. Within minutes of our arrival, the Cessna Caravan from Swan River Seaplanes comes diving out of the morning sun and lands smoothly on the water in front of us.

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Above: From South Perth to Wadjemup

The take off was more graceful than my graceless body surfing at City Beach.  The aircrafts pontoons lift off the water in the direction of Crown Casino and the Optus Stadium before banking to the west.

There was time to take in the view of the city, the coast, the ocean and then Wajemup came in sight.

I was scheduled to go live on air, in the air, with 6PR radio to describe the experience but the flight was so fast we’d landed at Wadjemup before they could cross to me.  Even with two laps of the island to take in the view the flight was only 20 minutes.

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Above: Wadjemup from the air with Swan River Seaplanes

Meeting us on the island is the Rottnest Island Authority Executive Director, Michelle Reynolds, who has very generously accepted the challenge of showing us around the island.  For the next few hours we are regaled with historical stories, modern day plans and have the opportunity to learn and experience the island like I have never done before.

A climb of the Wadjemup Lighthouse is 155 steps and because I’m a father I’m allowed to generate the odd dad joke or two so I asked Tom how many steps it was coming down.  Easy. Remember he’s only ten.

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Above: Wadjemup Lighthouse and one of the new refreshment vans

We visit the bays, inspect the beaches, salt lakes and tuart groves and watch as ospreys nest and seals bask and loll.  We buy refreshments from the new vans and felt a bit guilty, as we entered Michelle’s airconditioned car, that we were possibly depriving a thirsty cyclist of a much needed peach iced tea.

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Above: Refreshments from the van at Fish Hook Bay

When we parted ways with Michelle it was with a new appreciation for the work that is going into making Wadjemup better but also for acknowledging what people love most about the island experience, a laid back lifestyle where even sunburn and grazed knees just don’t seem to hurt as much as they do on the mainland.

Tom and I headed to the bakery to get a well deserved cream bun and a choc milk before making the ten minute walk to The Basin for a well anticipated swim.  Along the way Tom met his spirit quokka.  We didn’t attempt a selfie but first contact was made as Tom got down to eyelevel with a quokka and his outstretched finger was sniffed and touched by this amazing little animals nose.

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First contact.  Meeting your spirit quokka.

At The Basin, a Christmas choir was singing from the waters edge and even the fish were joining in.  As carols reverberated off the limestone cliffs Tom and I swam along the reef edge and spotted all sorts of fish that were bigger than my foot, in fact both feet put together!  Bream, Trevally, Snapper and even a couple of retired old cods, just hanging out by a weed bank discussing the latest flotsam, jetsam and tidal trends.

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The Basin

The fast and comfortable journey back to Perth by SeaLink ferry was made even better by the opportunity for Tom to take the captains chair on the bridge and monitor the compass as we made our way into Fremantle Harbour.  He was in his element, scanning from river bank to river bank and warning pelicans to get out of the way.

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Above: Tom gets instructions from the SeaLink Skipper

What a way to spend a day in WA!

Need to know more?

http://www.swanriverseaplanes.com.au

http://www.rottnestisland.com

http://www.westernaustralia.com

http://www.sealinkrottnest.com.au

For information on my day with Tom on Rottnest have a look at my Instagram account @chrisparrywritesforus

ABC Breakfast Radio: What have you taken from a hotel room?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HhYe64zC_Q_JH8k4Kl8eo6PdBLqfiOnC/view?ts=5df04623

 

 

Wonderful discussion on the ABC Breakfast Show with some very funny talkback callers confessing to all sorts of things that have just ended up in their bags.

Do we leave our values and compliance with rules at home when we check in to a hotel?  As the hotel card is pushed down to activate the lights do you scan for what you can put in your bags?  Pens? Notepads? Body Lotion? Do Not Disturb Sign? Lamps? Batteries from the tv remote?

I’m a pen guy.  Love them.

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Above: My favourite hotel pen from The Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, South Africa.  If you’re reading this Sun City it was my daughter Matilda who put the pen in my bag.

My son Tom is still worried the Narrogin Police are chasing after him for taking the complimentary biscuits in the room at the Narrogin Albert Facey Motel.

The Top 10 items taken from hotel rooms:

  1. Pens and notepads
  2. Do Not Disturb signs
  3. Shower Gel, body lotion, shampoo
  4. Box of tissues
  5. Coathangers
  6. Globes
  7. Batteries
  8. Towels
  9. Slippers
  10. Robes

Things you will likely be charged for include:

  1. Robes and linen
  2. Emergency torch
  3. Kettle
  4. Hair dryers
  5. Art work
  6. Wheels on the bottom of the bed

Pocket a pen, squirrel away the toiletries and maybe take a few tissues if you need them but try and leave everything else for the next guest.

You’ve paid for the room, you haven’t paid for its contents.

 

ABC Breakfast Show with Nadia and Russ: Staycations. You don’t have to stay at home to have one.

A whirlwind opportunity to talk about and redefine the staycation.  You don’t need to stay at home and find yourself visiting Bunnings.  A staycation can be about getting out and about in your state.  Not very far from home but still out and about.

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A night away, not far from home is my new definition of a staycation

As Published in Have A Go News: Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories

Have A Go News newspaper recently published my list of the Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories that you should have on every trip.  They’re also all lightweight and easy to store.

Aquatabs are as close as I get to panic prep packing but because they are easy to tuck in your toiletries bag with other medications they’re worth having if you ever doubt the safety of the water you’re drinking.

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Have a Go News is distributed throughout Western Australia to nearly 2000 community centres, recreation centres, supermarkets and more.

So, my Top 10, in no particular order but I must admit the first thing in any of my bags is a pen . . .

TopTen

 

As Published in ‘Airline Ratings’, Tom Loves Cathay!

My story about Tom’s experience with Cathay Pacific was recently published by Airline Ratings.

Enjoy reading all about Tom’s experience with Cathay Pacific here.

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With inflight entertainment, a good selection of food options and plenty of attention from the staff, Tom’s experience meant a great flight experience for me.

Radio Melayu: Lets begin the winter fightback! Get packing!

I recently spent a brilliant evening on Radio Melayu chatting about my recent adventures and how we all need to find a way to get packing and escape winter by getting overseas or embracing winter and snuggling into a gorgeous resort down south.

The link below features descriptions for a few of my new favourite things, including Bali’s spectacular new resort the Apurva Kempinski Bali, Hong Kong Star Ferries and markets, Hong Kong Disneyland, Pullman Bunker Bay Resort and amazing airlines for travelling with children, including Malindo Air, Batik Air and Cathay Pacific.

 

 

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Top 10 Travel Essentials for Back in the Day … and Today.

Some of those golden rules about travel are still gold standard today.  The featured image for this story comes courtesy of my son Tom who took the photo while I was trying antigravity yoga at Four Seasons Jimbaran, a very safe and very luxurious resort in Bali.

Travel should increase your sense of daring but not heighten your sense of stupidity.  When we travel we should do things outside our comfort zone but not at the risk of needing a helicopter medical evacuation.

Similar to the choices we make when we travel, we need to consider what we travel with.  These days it’s the SIM cards, power banks, cables and chords to provide the life support systems for your phone which carries the apps, emails and photos of everything you need.  Or does it?

Back in the day, but still for me today, I have a standard list of ten things ready to go in my favourite bag.  I know they’re there if I need them and none of them need charging.

  1. Pen – Even if it’s just to complete the arrival card while you’re flying, it’s worth it.
  2. Alcohol swab – not to suck on if the bar prices are too high but for any scratch you get, particularly if you’re doing a bit of trekking.  Light to carry and easy to store in a pocket or wallet, just a quick wipe and you know that you’ve cleaned your little wound.  Also handy if you really need to touch a dodgy tap or door handle.
  3. Bags – Little zip lock bags and scrunched up shopping bags may be frowned upon these days but they have endless valuable uses when you travel.  They’re a quick and easy sick bag, storage for a phone if you’re heading near water, you can store wet clothes and unexpected things you’ve bought and you can safely store those stolen buffet breakfast items.
  4. Aquatabs – This is as close as I get to doomsday prepping when I travel but given they are light and easy to store it’s not like I’m stocking up on cartons of tomato soup for a nuclear winter.  If you get caught without a safe water supply these little tablets can save you and whoever you are travelling with.  In not much more time than it takes to dissolve, they turn a dodgy water source into a lifesaver.
  5. Safety Pin – This will make you look more presentable if you bust a button or zip and you can use it to carefully scratch at a splinter.
  6. Hard copy – Yes you’ve got all your passport copies, itineraries and bookings in your phone but what happens if the phone can’t save you because it’s broken or stolen? Save yourself by having copies (in a zip lock bag of course) and put them in the bottom of your bag hopefully never to be needed but they won’t take up any weight or space.  Countries like South Africa will want to see hard copies of travel documents, particularly if you’re travelling with a child.
  7. Tissues – Remember Elaine in Seinfeld being caught in a toilet with no paper and the lady in the next cubicle saying, “I haven’t got a square to spare.”  Last year in Italy I found myself in a cubicle with no paper and lets just say it was too late to back out of that situation.  Thankfully I remembered that in my little day bag I have a couple of tissues (in a zip lock bag of course) for that unexpected sneeze …. or worse.
  8. Spare glasses – If you need glasses you need to take a spare pair.  Why travel to see the sights if you can’t see the sights?
  9. Cut up photos in envelopes – This isn’t a dad joke bit it is the dad traveller in me. When tech fails and there’s a flight delay or other unexpected period of boredom, a few envelopes that have got cut up photocopies of photos make great jigsaw puzzles and keep young minds occupied for precious minutes.  Again, they’re light and easy to store.
  10. Repack – Not an item but a travel procedure.  Make time in your travels to repack and refamiliarize yourself with your belongings and where they are located in your bags.  Work out what you need for the next day and whether you need to keep the bundle of receipts from the days shopping. Is there anything you now realize you don’t need that you can donate to a local charity or post back home?

That’s my ten.  I like to think I’m a good traveller and that I cover bases for myself and those I travel with.  Remember it’s not just about what you’re prepared for but what those you’re with are prepared for.

The picture below is an example of where I possibly didn’t consider the wants of my travelling companion.

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Sorry mate.

 

 

Travel that throws you back

In the 1984 comedy movie, Top Secret, the French resistance group has a member whose name is De Ja Vu.  There is a scene in the movie where he is introduced to another character and he looks at him suspiciously and says, “Haven’t I met you somewhere before?”

Like deja vu, the sense of nostalgia can be triggered by an experience we are having.  I was reminded of this recently when I saw an Instagram post of a Sydney ferry.  Immediately I was taken back to 1983, pressing play on my red Sharp QT-12 cassette recorder to listen to Reckless by Aussie Crawl.  The line in the song about the Manly ferry cutting its way through to Circular Quay came straight back to me just looking at the Instagram post of a Sydney Ferry.

It reminded me of how our senses are heightened when we travel.  It works both ways as well.  When I travelled through South Africa with my daughter we noticed the Jacaranda trees in glorious purple bloom and it reminded us of the streets around our home in Perth.  Now when I see Jacaranda trees around Perth I’m reminded of travelling through South Africa with my daughter.

There’s so many other ways this can happen.  Like the Instagram photo, I read a travel article the other day that included a photo of Polignano A Mare in Pulia, Italy.  The photo was of a particular part of Polignano A Mare that I swam at, ruining many tourists photos.  It’s one of the great joys of travelling; the years afterwards when you see the places you have been to in movies and the news or read descriptions of them in stories.

cream bun

Ah!  Cream buns.  For me the sight and the smell reminds me of the Rottnest Bakery on a summers day.  Perhaps it triggers a memory for you of the Dunsborough Bakery or the bakery in your local town.

The sights and smells of our travels throw us back in time and similarly, the joy of travel will be triggered for the rest of your life  as you smell a cream bun or pad thai, check your friends social media posts or watch the latest blockbuster at the movies.  Revel in it!  Enjoy what travel can do to your senses and your memories!

Karry On travel industry website: Ticking all the boxes in amazing South Africa

As published by travel industry website, KarryOn:

Romantic comedy, Blended, starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, was partially filmed in South Africa and my daughter Matilda’s love for this movie and her desire to travel to the locations from the movie have led us to The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in South Africa.

I have never arrived at a hotel before that has made my jaw drop and put a smile on my face at the same time.  The Palace of the Lost City is spectacularly over the top in every way.  It is awash with a sense of style that could be a movie set but is genuine and authentic in its attempt to impress you.  Combined with the mesmerising architecture and décor are staff who laugh and sing through their day as they attend to your every whim.

As we approach the hotel over a small bridge we can see that between us and the entrance is ‘Cheetah Hunt’, the larger than life bronze sculpture depicting two cheetah pursing a small group of impala. It’s the first of many exclamations from Matilda, “It’s just like it is in the movie!” The sculpture is large and dramatic, fitting seamlessly in with the style of everything around it.

 

CHECK-IN & BEYOND

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The check-in process is quick and easy with a broad counter and many staff to assist you. The check-in takes place under a 25 metre high ceiling dome painted with frescos of African wildlife while underfoot a marble floor flows towards the Crystal Court, the palatial dining area of the Palace of the Lost City.

Large parts of the hotel have atrium spaces that allow views across the various floors and out to the Sun City valley below.  As we’re escorted to our room we pass by the atrium space where the statue of Africa’s most famous elephant, a massive bull called Shawu, commands your attention.

 

THE ROOM

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Our room overlooks a dense belt of jungle that can be explored using various paths but also brings with it a warning sign in our room to not leave our balcony doors open otherwise monkeys may ransack your room.  The room is spacious, luxurious and includes excellent information about the facilities and attractions to be found in Sun City. There is plenty of room to unpack our bags, plenty of room to stretch our legs and a bathroom big enough for a teenager to declare, “This will do just nicely.”

 

FOOD

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Our buffet breakfast each day is held in the Crystal Court of the Palace of the Lost City and where many of the meal scenes in Blended were filmed and where comedian and actor Terry Crews performed much of the movies music.

For one of our lunches at a restaurant overlooking the Valley of Waves we meet some of the people who worked on the movie Blended and can be seen in several scenes. Over a monster pile of sticky ribs, Matilda is spellbound by a series of first-hand accounts from someone who actually appeared in her all-time favourite movie.

The next day we sit with the owner of the Sun City microbrewery to listen to his accounts of the cast and crew he met from the movie so while Matilda filled her boots with even more Blended stories I filled mine on delicious ciders and ales.

Sun City has food options in delicacy and price for everyone.  From the Crystal Court High Tea at the Palace of the Lost City to the shopping mall food court there is something for everyone at any time of the day.

 

THE VERDICT

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The Sun City Resort is a complete resort.  It is absolutely and truly able to substantiate all claims of having something for everyone.  It is infinitely explorable and enjoyable for all ages.  It offers extreme adventure, a little adventure or no adventure if you just want to enjoy some poolside time, excellent shopping or world class golf.

Accommodation ranges from recently refurbished budget hotels to the top of the valley ultra-luxury experience of the Palace of the Lost City.

Matilda’s bucket list travel experience separated some movie fact from fiction.  We stood on the spot where the ostrich riding scene was filmed but there is no ostrich riding activity available.  We drove down the old airstrip where Drew Barrymore undertook her parasailing adventure, nearly missing a rhinoceros on her rapid descent but there is actually no parasailing available behind a four wheel drive.

Matilda discovered in South Africa that fact is greater than fiction.  A vast and beautiful landscape filled with adventure, luxury, laughter and excitement that only the real world can create.

 

THE DETAILS

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d920823.5771760629!2d26.98249794676705!3d-25.648445775602408!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x1ebe0963791ca751%3A0xe0a11b3b75d51bea!2sThe+Palace+of+the+Lost+City!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sau!4v1540359882916Sun City is located two hours drive from Johannesburg in the North West Province of South Africa and district of Bojanala and adjacent to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

South African Airways is the flag carrier airline for South Africa and flies regularly to Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport and from there it is a two and half hour drive to Sun City Resort.

For accommodation deals, seasonal packages and airport transfer prices to Sun City Resort, contact your local travel agent.

For more information visit www.suninternational.com

Karry On travel industry website: We’re On Safari To Stay

The following story, as published by Karryon (www.karryon.com.au), shares with you the exploits of my daughter and I in a remarkable part of South Africa:

As my daughter Matilda and I touch down on a little airstrip in the Madikwe Reserve in South Africa for a safari with Sanctuary Makanyane Luxury Safari Lodge, the next ten minutes are as imprinted on my mind as the birth thirteen years ago of the girl beside me.  Every second as vivid, exhilarating and heart thumping as life can throw at you.

Just seconds after departing the airstrip an impala leapt lightly to the side of the track and the gasps of Matilda led our guide, Kaiser, to turn his head to check if we were OK.

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Imagine our behaviour less than ten seconds later when a big bull elephant was standing alongside the track.  A real elephant in the real wild. Then at our first river crossing we saw zebra, waterbuck, warthog, impala and a monitor lizard.  I was looking for Elton John to start singing the Circle of Life.

 

CHECK-IN & BEYOND

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As we approach the Makanyane Safari Lodge I notice a gathering of people at the entrance and think that we must have arrived at a busy time with people checking in and checking out, the usual commotion of a hotel reception area.

Remarkably, the gathering was the management team of Makanyane Safari Lodge, out to welcome us.  I had thought a free iced tea on arrival at some of the South East Asian resorts I’ve visited was pretty flash but this was taking things to another level.

Furthermore, it wasn’t because I was travelling with the most gorgeous girl in the world, it is just what they do for all of their arriving guests, for which there are no more than sixteen at any time. For the next few days we experience not just a luxurious way of life but a level of service that was more akin to friendship than customer service.

 

THE ROOM

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Accommodation is spread across just eight luxurious suites that are more like small houses.  Each suite is well spaced from the others and built from thatch and stone.  The air-conditioned bedroom and bathroom have floor to ceiling windows overlooking a river but I highly recommend the outdoor shower to instantly get you back to nature.

While they are mostly intended to be occupied by couples, the suites pass the rigorous privacy test of a father and daughter.  There is plenty of space to do what needs to be done without cries of, “Gross!”

In between game drives and meals, we sit and watch the environment that is just outside our suite. We spot snakes in the trees, monitor lizards, birds and monkeys while other travellers we meet have watched zebra, elephant and kudu make their way along the riverbank in front of their window.

 

FOOD

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(Pic provided shows our lunchtime feast of chakalaka, ostrich skewers, bocconcini and bush tomato salad, potato and egg salad and lamb samosas with mint chutney)

For meals at the lodge there is always plenty of choice and Matilda and I are quick converts to South African cuisine. We loved the gamey flavour of ostrich skewers and tang and spice of chakalaka and love saying it almost as much as bobotie.  Chakalaka is a vegetable relish that can used alongside anything while bobotie is a spicy mince dish that is baked with an egg topping.

Matilda and I are warmly included in forming a larger group at mealtimes despite her being the only child at the lodge and all of the other guests being honeymooners.  She probably hears a few stories that aren’t quite age appropriate but having heard some of her exclamations upon getting close to roaring lions and charging elephants perhaps I need to reassess her ability to understand the world around her.

 

THE VERDICT

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We depart Makanyane Safari Lodge in much the same way as we arrived, in the company of the staff who embrace us.  Around our vehicle are the friends we have made and as we take a final look at the faces who have pampered us, fed us, protected us and taught us, I hope they truly understand the impact they have had on our life.  Experiences that I hope my daughter will describe to her children one day and inspire them to add this remarkable land to their travel bucket list.

 

THE DETAILS

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d2365426.3482293324!2d25.89313806913029!3d-25.816396449016!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x1ebb8018ee96e08d%3A0x484f29b4ffc9faa1!2sSanctuary+Makanyane+Luxury+Safari+Lodge!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sau!4v1540355897109

The Sanctuary Makanyane Luxury Safari Lodge is located within the lost world of the Madikwe Reserve and is one of the few Malaria free safari locations in South Africa.

Madikwe Reserve is in South Africa’s North West Province, close to the border of Botswana and just a short flight by light aircraft from Johannesburg. It is surrounded by a ridge of hills and well protected by antipoaching patrols.

South African Airways is the flag carrier airline for South Africa and flies regularly to Johannesburg’s O.R Tambo International Airport.  From the airport, it’s a one hour flight with Federal Airlines to the Madikwe Reserve or a three hour drive, renting a car from the airport.

Prices at Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge start from ZAR 7,500 per person per night, twin share, for 1 – 3 nights, including all meals and drinks (excluding premium brands) and transfers to and from the airstrip to the Lodge plus a choice of daily shared game viewing activities.

But for even better savings, take advantage of Sanctuary Retreats’ extended stay offer 2018, when you stay at one or more of our properties including Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Loge depending on your season of travel.

Stay 4 – 6 nights and save up to 30%.
Stay 7+ nights and save up to 40%.

Terms and conditions apply.

For more information about Sanctuary Retreats visit:

www.sanctuaryretreats.com

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

South Africa has very strict anti-child slavery rules. It is important to ensure that if you’re travelling as a single parent with a child to South Africa that prior to your travel you complete the immigration form and have it correctly signed by a valid certifying agent and, if possible, correspondence from the other parent of the child that certifies permission to travel to South Africa.

Be conscious of the timing and detail provided in social media posting of your safari experience as poaching is a serious issue throughout Africa and any notification of where an animal is located may be of use to poachers.