The World Heritage Status of the Victoria Falls Rainforest has not been downgraded as Unesco still recognises it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi has said.
Eng Mzembi said only God could delist the Victoria Falls Rainforest from being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Commenting on reports which alleged that the Victoria Falls Rainforest had been delisted from being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World making way for the so-called New7Wonders of the World which include the Table Mountain of South Africa, Eng Mzembi said the Rainforest, which is the largest curtain of flowing water in the world, would remain as a natural wonder until the end of time.
"No individual or grouping can delist it or downgrade it. It is only God who can delist Victoria Falls Rainforest as a natural wonder if the world comes to an end. Fortunately, the world has not ended and therefore we still have the Rainforest as a natural wonder. God as He pleases when the world comes to an end may create the Rainforest somewhere, but for all I know it will be back in Zimbabwe," said Eng Mzembi.
He said individuals or groups can only grade man-made wonders.
Eng Mzembi also said the publication on the New7Wonders of the World were a result of a private poll of the website, which is not the official position of Unesco.
"We have since established that the status of Victoria Falls has not changed at all. The Rainforest, as a World Heritage Site, is still highly listed as being among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World by the Unesco website and is the only one in Africa," said Mr Clement Mukwasi, public relations manager for Shearwater Adventures.
He said the mentioning of Table Mountain as one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World was simply a marketing gimmick by a website, "The About.com" on the New7Wonders of Nature competition.
"This should not be confused with the long standing ratings of the Victoria Falls Rainforest. These private ratings that are a result of manipulated polls should not be taken seriously. The unfortunate part of it is that sometimes people confuse it with official pronouncements," said Mr Mukwasi.
He said Victoria Falls Rainforest was among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and compared well with some of the world's largest falls such as the Niagara Falls of Canada and the Iguacu Falls, which are found between Brazil and Argentina. In 1989, Unesco upgraded the Victoria Falls to the status of a World Heritage Site in Zimbabwe alongside Mana Pools, the Great Zimbabwe and Matopo Hills. Meanwhile, the idea of listing the wonders of the world is hardly a new thing.
The historian Herodotus, according to the free encyclopedia, compiled his own list way back in the fifth Century BC and from then on many have been unable to resist the temptation of categorising and rating the world's monuments, both natural and man-made.
The traditional Seven Wonders of the World were the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
These were the monuments the Greeks considered the epitome of man's creative skill and ingenuity and only the Great Pyramid exists today. Little wonder then, that in the information age there are moves to make new lists of man-made and natural wonders.
The New7Wonders of Nature was a follow-up popularity contest to the New7Wonders Foundation, New7Wonders of the World, which were announced in July 2007. These are Iguazu Falls (Brazil), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo Island (Indonesia), Puerto Precesa Underground River (Philippines), Table Mountain (South Africa), Halong Bay (Vietnam) and Amazon Rainforest (South America).