ANOTHER TON OF IVORY SEIZED IN VIETNAM ENROUTE TO CHINA
The words deafening silence come to mind when the official response to petitions and pleas by global conservation organizations to the Chinese government is described over the countrys deplorable record in illegal ivory and rhino horn trade. In the cross hairs for the past two years for the hunger and greed of her citizens for the white gold, aka blood ivory, the Chinese government has done little to strengthen enforcement or join the international community to halt the escalating poaching of elephant and rhino on the African continent, as if covertly sending the message it is alright to their electorate and rich party funders. 221 tusks, representing at least 111 elephants slaughtered for their ivory, were seized at the border with China in Vietnam earlier this week, destined to reach buyers inside China, where demand is fuelling the gruesome wholesale butchering of entire elephant herds.
Several people, including two Chinese, were arrested when vigilant customs officials intercepted the shipment of contraband cargo inside Vietnam, bringing global seizure in 2011 to a new record high. Shipments often originate in Southern but also Eastern Africa, to where DNA analysis has in the past tracked impounded tusks, but is often smuggled, concealed amongst other cargo like wood or fish, via Mozambique, Tanzania or Kenya. The latter two have stepped up surveillance in ports and airports and in particular in Kenya is vigilance said to be at the highest with regular arrests of passengers transiting in Nairobi, carrying illegal ivory purchased elsewhere in their baggage.
Conservation groups, when told of this latest seizure of blood ivory, have renewed their calls for immediate strengthening of laws in Africa to serve as a real deterrent against commercial scale poaching of rhino, elephant and other game, with minimum sentences recommended between 10 to 15 years and fines of a multiple of the value of the ivory confiscated. Said one such source in Nairobi early this morning: this has to be fast tracked now by parliament because right now, the fines are peanuts and suspects get out on bail and just go back to poach more. We are ill equipped to deal with this problem and in so far we are making it easier. This must stop now or we are losing all our elephant and in the process lose our tourism industry. Sentiments based in true fact, so the time to act is now, and not alone but hand in hand with all the other countries affected by wildlife poaching from East to South to West Africa. Watch this space.
Archive for October 26th, 2011
ANOTHER TON OF IVORY SEIZED IN VIETNAM ENROUTE TO CHINA
KENYA MUSEUM READY FOR KNOW KENYA MORE WEEK
As the hashtag line #TembeaKenya finds ever more followers amongst the tweep community in Kenya, with live reports from their travel across the country tweeted in and then re-tweeted by Magical Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service, was the Kenya Museum Society busy to put final touches on a weeklong celebration of Know Kenya More, which kicks off on October 31st.
While details are available via info here are the key details for our readers, a mouthwatering array of lectures, presentations and debates culminating in a field trip to Karura Forest, the very one the late Prof. Wangari Mathaai rescued through her peaceful civil disobedience campaign, which first earned her beatings and detention by an overzealous police force but ultimately earned her the Nobel Peace Prize, a cabinet position and global recognition for her lifes achievements.
Participation in the full programme will cost 6.000 Kenya Shillings or about 60 US Dollar equivalent, well worth for what is on the programme. .
Eminent speakers like Cynthia Moss, Kenyas own Elephant Lady, Rhodia Mann, Dr. Wanja Nyingi or Kuki Gallman are likely to thrill the audience but documentary films and plenary discussions as well as cultural performances also await participants.
The event will close with a guided tour of Karura Forest, where undoubtedly much will be said in memory of the late Prof. Wangari Mathaai and where a picnic will eventually bring an eventful week to a close.
For those in Nairobi over the period, daily entrance is also available at a cost of 500 Kenya Shillings per lecture. A DONT MISS EVENT.
Kenya news update – Will new roads, bypasses and flyover bring salvation to Nairobi’s traffic congestion?
INVESTMENTS IN NEW ROADS AND BYPASSES WILL IMPROVE LIFE QUALITY IN NAIROBI
A regular deep throat source in Kenyas capital city of Nairobi has told this correspondent that governments ongoing efforts to improve the road network in and around Nairobi will yield big results in the next 3 5 years, when quality of life in the city will improve considerably. This statement was made when discussing current affairs to which no comments were offered and the imminent signing of a finance agreement between the Republic of Kenya and the Peoples Republic of China which will cater for the construction of the Southern Bypass, which will be funded, and very likely constructed too, by the Chinese government. This bypass, when ready, will route heavy transit traffic around the city, leaving the city roads largely for deliveries and commuter traffic.
Within Nairobi government intends to also construct a flyover to allow traffic to flow above the most congested intersections and roundabouts in the city, further de-congesting the main roads, which have become a nightmare for commuters and visitors alike.
Tourists will find the city better in terms of traffic, to reach their hotels from the airport, to leave for safari or return to the airport when they have ended their holiday in Kenya. This is important for the picture we as Kenya make overseas. And while the CBD has been moving to new suburban centres, at least in part, traffic in and out of the city centre and to those new business hubs will also become easier when the new roads are ready. You see, this is longer term planning looking beyond next years elections, preparing for the future of our country and surely this is good news for you to write about. We know that we have problems here and there, inflation, our currency, a congested airport, the Somalia situation but the future of the country still is positive and with all the new projects coming up we shall do a lot better.
Kenya is due to get a new harbour in Lamu, probably also financed by international consortia, with Chinese overtures at the most intense already, and is set to construct a new standard gauge rail link from Lamu to South Sudan with a branch off to Ethiopia. This will be opening new transport corridors for both countries directly to the Kenyan coast, while the existing narrow gauge railway between Mombasa and Nairobi, and on to Uganda, is also due to be modernized and widened to an international standard gauge line. I know you are not happy when you write about Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the delays in expanding it, giving it a face lift, but our government has now understood the importance of this project and is also speeding it up. Give it two more years and you will see a very modern and spacious airport did the source add when challenged over the constraints at Kenyas, in fact the East African regions most important aviation hub.
So two years it will be for JKIA and on the outside 5 for a new Nairobi bypass and new city road network, but until then be sure to read regular updates on developments not just from Kenya but the entire Eastern African region. Watch this space.
FIRST ARREST IN BLAST CASE YIELDS WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES
The Kenya Police was able to give good news overnight that a first arrest has been made in connection with the ongoing search for the culprits in the dual grenade blasts, which have rocked Nairobis streets two days ago. I am not authorized to give official statements but can tell you that the arrest of a suspect led to a find of a weapons cache and grenades in his small apartment. We also have the identity of the person killed at the bus terminal incident and he has a criminal record for violent robbery which makes him a prime suspect in that grenade blast. The thing bounced off the bus window it was thrown at and it might have backfired on him this way but we are still investigating his movements and what he was up to before the incident. Right now we cannot confirm or rule out his complicity in the attack. For now, police searches are going on in Kenya, not just Nairobi or Mombasa and we are sure to find more suspects soon a referral source with connections to the security apparatus in Nairobi said last evening.
Kenyas capital enjoyed a quiet night, although bars and nyama choma joints, places where roast meet is served and which are hugely popular amongst Kenyans, were however said to have rather low business as wananchi hurried home from work trying to avoid crowded public places. Elsewhere have entrance check points been set up with walk through metal detectors and hand held scanners while briefcases and handbags are now routinely searched when entering government and private office buildings, restaurants and shopping malls, while hotels in addition search cars entering their perimeter. Airlines too have reportedly turned up the already high security measures a further notch to be sure of preventing incidents. Watch this space.
GULF AIR OFF TO ROCKY START IN KAMPALA
A recent seminar for a very select group of agents and press conference for equally select media representatives by Gulf Air in Kampala seems to have served little purpose other than exposing the state of un-readiness, as emails obtained by this correspondent between travel agents and the airline also confirm. One Mr. Ameen Saki Qasim, titled Commercial Manager Uganda, denied that Gulf Air was an offline parachute airline as agents had put it to him but had to concede that only a few weeks ahead of the planned start of flights to Entebbe no General Sales Agent had been appointed yet nor had an office been opened.
We will soon be announcing our call centre number to all our business partners in Uganda in a few days time was another statement taken from an email, which in response to questions posed by dozens of travel agents also claimed that most agents are already activated and have started issuing tickets on GF plates. This was seen as a most astonishing statement though considering the part of another email which invited agents, in the absence of office and a call centre number, to Please email all your waitlisted booking to us for confirmation, in case you are finding it difficult to get seats for any sector in your GDS system.
In another full mouthed statement the same email also claims to gradually increase to daily services from Entebbe something which, considering Gulf Airs past hasty withdrawal from Uganda a few years ago and the state of preparedness for the inaugural flight at this stage just 5 weeks away, produced more than a few oh really now comments from agents polled on the subject.
The entire spat seems to have incensed some of the leading travel agents to no end with some saying that with the choice of Emirates daily wide body flight to Dubai and with highly rated Qatar Airways commencing operations next week with daily flights, they would adopt a wait and see attitude. Some conceded they would offer their clients the option of Gulf should, in view of all of this confusion, the startup fares really be throw away as one regular contributor said they would have to be to make an impact, considering the amateurish way of working the local market shown so far.
Getting passengers into those seats suddenly seems to have become so much more difficult for Gulf Air, but even empty seats deserve good wishes for Happy Landings.
ETHIOPIAN STARTS CODESHARE TO SINGAPORE
Effective 01st of November will Singapore Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines commence a codeshared flight connection between Addis Ababa and Singapore, adding a new destination for both airlines. The daily flights will route via Dubai, from Addis served by ET on a codeshared basis, and passengers destined to Singapore will then transit to their convenient connection on Singapore Airlines to Singapore.
It was not possible to ascertain if the arrangement can or will be extended to destinations served beyond the respective partners hubs in Addis and Singapore to a wider range of African and Asian destinations.
Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance member for since the early years when the alliance was formed and Ethiopian is undergoing a process of harmonization with alliance requirements before moving from applicant status to full member, in due course. Watch this space for regular and breaking news updates from the Eastern African and Indian Ocean aviation scene.