39 WILDLIFE OFFICERS GRADUATE FROM KWS MANYANI TRAINING SCHOOL
The Kenya Wildlife Service, under a bilateral agreement with the Republic of South Sudan, has just graduated some 39 senior wildlife officers from an inaugural course conducted for them at the KWS Wildlife Training College in Manyani, Tsavo West. Present for the graduation was Dr. Julius Kipngetich, KWS Chief Executive, who in his address hailed the regional cooperation efforts to protect crucially important wildlife resources for the benefit of tourism and to maintain biodiversity. Said Dr. Julius according to a source in Nairobi: Kenya has a long history of managing wildlife and will strive to ensure that South Sudan will endeavour to emulate and follow the same route. We hope the 39 officers, who have been undergoing an intensive training in anti-poaching and wildlife security operations at the academy will boost wildlife conservation and the tourism industry in the region.
South Sudan Embassy Representative Deng was quoted by the same source to have responded by thanking the Kenyan government for supporting South Sudan pointing to the training course as part of human resource development and skills transfer, which help the Africas newest country to catch up with her neighbours. He said the civil war in the country that resulted to 21 years of unrest had led to an immense depletion of wildlife numbers because of mismanagement of parks. Survey studies have shown that Boma National Park as well as the Sudd Wetland and Southern National Park near Congo provided habitats for large populations of Kobs and Topis, buffalos, elephants among others but the numbers have since reduced.
He told the newly graduated officers to pass on their knowledge and skills they to their colleagues back home.
The 39 are part of an overall group of 79, 40 of whom are being trained at the KWS Institute in Naivasha. A total of 126 wildlife officers have so far been trained both at the KWS Institute, Naivasha and the Law Enforcement Academy in Tsavo West National Park. In December 2009, the first batch of 60 officers graduated from Naivasha and Law Enforcement Academy. The Wildlife Conservation and Management domain has been one of the selected areas of cooperation between South Sudan and Kenya. Congrats to the graduates.
Archive for June 14th, 2012
39 WILDLIFE OFFICERS GRADUATE FROM KWS MANYANI TRAINING SCHOOL
A regular source in Kigali has overnight shared information that Kigali will be the host city for the East African Communitys first ever joint art festival, to be held in Rwandas capital city from 27th October until 04th of November. The launch event is expected to bring several thousand added visitors to Rwanda, not only allowing them to see the extensive arts and cultural programmes from the five EAC member states but also to witness firsthand the remarkable transformation of Rwanda into a modern nation, belying constant murmurs that some things cannot be done in Africa.
The decision to select Kigali was taken following a reportedly outstanding proposal of how to host and what to showcase here, giving Rwanda once again a leadership in the regional block leaving others to follow if not trail in the distance.
Deepening Integration through Culture and Creative Industries is the theme of this years inaugural event and performers from across the region are expected to appear in their Sunday best when performing for the expected large audiences the event is hoped to bring to Kigali. Presentations and performances will include fashion shows, art exhibitions, concerts, symposiums, workshops and cultural village displays amongst others, making it an ideal showcase for tourist visitors coming during that week to see prime examples of cultural heritage from the entire East Africa showcased in Kigali. Watch this space for future updates and not miss this culture extravaganza.
Marasa Africa re-open the Aberdare Country Club and the Ark after extensive modernization and refurbishments
The Kenyan properties of Marasa Africa, the hospitality arm of the Madhvani Group in Uganda, have just been re-opened following months of intense refurbishments and attention to detail at the Aberdare Country Club, featured in the picture above, the Ark a treehotel now much more of a forest resort where game meanders by and tourists are stationary high above and the Mara Leisure Camp in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
The Aberdare Country Club is set to become once again a crowd favourite in Kenya, not only because all the rooms and the main building have been fully refurbished and modernized but in part at last as the clubs 9 hole golf course too has seen some major improvements to it and more work has gone into the stables too where horses await to be taken out across the sprawling estate and beyond for some early morning or afternoon rides.
At the Ark too had extensive work taken place and the result is a sparkling fresh look at what will surely be an instant hit on the safari circuit again where a night at a tree hotels is almost a must. Here the long overdue drenching of the waterhole and the creation of a separate salt lick will undoubtedly bring ever more game to the front lawn of the Ark with visitor enjoying the spectacle either from the terrace, the lower deck lounge or the well hidden hide from where close up views of game are possible. Their third property, the Mara Leisure Camp, too has seen significant upgrading of the tents and cottages.
Marasa Africa now has 7 properties in its stable, 4 in Uganda and 3 in Kenya but has already indicated to this correspondent that they are seeking further acquisitions to expand their circuit deeper into Kenya, and other countries in the East African community too. Watch this space.
TURKISH TO DOUBLE AFRICAN DESTINATIONS BY END 2013
A source at Turkish Airlines in Nairobi has confirmed that the airline is set to double its African destinations by the end of next year. Presently flying from Istanbul to 20 destinations on the continent, mainly using narrow body B737-800 and B737-900 aircraft, including the East African gateways of Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe and of late even Kigali, THY is set to use additional aircraft deliveries in coming months to progressively roll out a tight Africa network, set to rival the big Gulf carriers Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, all of which too have focused in recent years on traffic from the African continent, connecting to the world through their respective hubs.
Turkish, a member of Star Alliance, has in recent years emerged from the shadows of the well near unnoticed large airlines and to the surprise of many now operates 185 aircraft and by the end of 2012 expects to have a fully operational fleet of 200 aircraft. The additional deliveries of in particular B737NG aircraft will allow Turkish to push African destinations up to 30 by the end of this year, with an expected further 10 coming on line over 2013. Africa is now the last frontier for economic development in the world and as the national economies grow there will be greater need for airtravel and air cargo. Turkish is getting ready to tap into that market by rolling out more destinations to countries which have the potential to make big contributions in terms of passengers and cargo the source said on condition of anonymity..
When asked to confirm the new destinations for Africa, this year and next year, the source however cited the need to keep such information secret for as long as possible to avoid competitors being tipped off too soon but be sure you read about the next countries in Africa THY will fly to right here, so watch this space.
LEOPARD BEACH RESORT AND SPA SET PROVISIONAL RE-OPENING DATE
Following the fire incident, reported here on the day it happened, at the Leopard Beach Resort and Spa two weeks ago, the preliminary assessment of damages sustained in the fire, such as makuti roofs over parts of the restaurant, stores and offices, has been completed and the Directors have issued a statement, indicating they are looking at December 01st for the resort to receive guests again.
The full statement, in large portions actually using this correspondents own initial description of the incident reproduced with full consent of course is shown below.
The Chui was at the time closed for its annual maintenance and refurbishment cycle and no guests were therefore affected by the fire. Watch this space for announcements nearer to the re-opening time to confirm that business will be back to normal at this outstanding resort on the Diani beach south of Mombasa.
Leopard Beach Resort and Spa suffered fire damage while undergoing its annual maintenance and therefore will not re-open as planned after the scheduled renovation period [on 29th June]. Our planned re-opening date is 1 December 2012 which will be confirmed [at a later
stage]. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused to our valued guests.
The Chui, as Leopard Beach Resort is fondly known among friends, has suffered fire damage to its makuti roofs near the main building. The resort is presently undergoing its annual spring-cleaning and modernisation – as has been done annually for the past 11 years – and therefore no guests were affected.
The fire was extinguished by the resorts in-house well-trained security team, supported by a state-of-the-art fire hydrant ring line, with the valuable assistance of the Ukunda airstrip fire truck and neighbouring resorts staff, who are also trained in fire response, thereby preventing greater damage to the structure. Loss adjusters from the insurance company have ruled out foul play as far as present investigations confirm.
The famous Marios and Marcos bars roofs were also affected but damage to both facilities was limited. The linen stores, laundry and some nearby offices suffered greater damage, though nothing which cannot be replaced. The planned re-opening on 29th June – an annual event when the Chui shows off its new and fresh look ready for another year of near full house occupancies – has to be pushed back and we will announce the anticipated dates soon.
On top of the 138 rooms and 20 suites, cottages and sea facing villas, the resort is presently adding 28 garden and forest villas of 2 to 3 bedrooms each with their own pools and is also adding an Asian Fusion restaurant. Leopard Beach Resort and Spa has been consistently voted Kenyas leading coastal resort having received both international and local awards and is a favourite to many who appreciate that the Chui never looks tired or worn.
Thankfully no one was injured in the fire and clearing up work has already commenced, again aided by the fact that the resort was closed at the time for its annual refurbishment. Please continue checking www.leopardbeachresort.com for more information and details, when available, on the projected re-opening. We take this opportunity to thank our valued guests and friends for their understanding and we look forward to welcoming you back to the new and improved Chui before long.
NEW DAWN OPENS NEW HORIZONS
When I return to familiar stomping grounds there are normally few things which I can say are truly new to me as it is after all my business to know what is happening across my areas of reporting. So when I came back to Kigali yesterday to commence the countdown for Kwita Izina 2012 with visits, interviews and interaction, and found an invitation by New Dawn Associates to sample one of their 6 exclusive excursion products they have developed, I thought first that the days programme, revealed to me on arrival with RwandAir from Entebbe, by my host minders from RDB, was a hard thing to ditch in favour of what on the face of it just looked like another run of the mill tour to a village or two.
I could not have been more mistaken though had I turned down my invitation, and missing the setting up and opening of the Kwita Izina Exhibition on a Green Economy was worth it as today it will still be there, whereas the invitation to Bugesera was limited for just that one day.
New Dawn Associates have 6 exclusive projects they take visitors to, starting from the Millennium Village Tour, the one I took, over This is Africa A charming introduction to multicultural Nyamirambo, The Dancing Pots An introduction to Batwa life and culture, the Humure Community Visit, where refugees thrown out of Tanzania one fine morning with little if any notice were resettled in an area South of the Akagera National Park, the Crop to Cup Kivu Coffee Experience where the processing of coffee from the tree to the washed bean is demonstrated to Imigongo A traditional cow dung painting workshop.
All of these trips can be included in a safari itinerary of regular shape and size, which ordinarily includes a visit to the highland gorillas, the savannah national park of Akagera, the Enchanted Forest, aka Nyungwe Forest National Park or the scenic sights of the Lake Kivu shores but ends up greatly enhanced by including the cultural and community aspects Rwanda has to showcase but few visitors even know they exist.
I, as mentioned before, took the day tour to Bugesera, where incidentally the new airport is going to be built, and 7 different activities and visits were on the programme.
First came the almost mandatory visit to a Genocide Memorial Site, many of which are located across the country and a standing reminder of NEVER AGAIN for real this time. The Nyamata Memorial Site was our destination, some 45 minutes outside Kigali, where about 100.000 people were slaughtered in a church, where they had sought refuge from the frenzied killers. Initially securely locked inside, the mob could not gain access and regular army units were brought in using grenades and heavy weapons to blow open the steel doors, before every single man, woman, child and baby was brutally murdered.
This happened in 1994 while attempts to murder thousands in 1992 in a similar way were thwarted by an Italian lady who lived much of her life opposite the church and raised the international alarm with calls and was in revenge killed in cold blood, though those in the church at the time were spared as a result of the global focus on what was about to happen. Two years later though, a brutal genocide was on the cards and swept the country, before the RPF led by current President Paul Kagame then drove the killers out of the country and laid the foundations for Phoenix to rise from the ashes and become the New Rwanda, a country of, for and by Rwandans without tribe.
(Tonia Locatellis grave next to the genocide church in Nyamata)
The tour then went on to visit a farm where the impact of the Millennium Development Village was very apparent, as the monocultures of old were replaced with mixed farming, where matooke and cassava is now supplemented by beans, groundnuts, cabbage, yams, avocado trees, chili plants, but also a cow, a piggery, chicken and goats. The efforts of agricultural extension officers and the UNDPs support for the Millennium Development Village concept here has resulted in a healthier life with cash crops for sale, helping subsistence farmers out of poverty.
The tour then went on to the Mayange Health Centre, now staffed with 17 nurses, a free family planning clinic including HIV testing and counseling and testimony that the post genocide Rwanda is now providing services to all people in all places. A mandatory 3.000 Rwandan Franc payment by each citizen per annum contributes towards a health insurance, which as a result has someone seeking treatment only pay 10 percent of the medical bills and prescriptions, while the public insurance pays the remainder of 90 percent, AND, those still living below the poverty line, once so ascertained by their cell leaders, are free of even that payment.
Modern schools have been built, offering three times a week a free lunch to children, with food grown within the school compound, and the One Laptop Per Child policy here paid dividends, as personally seen, with even primary school kids already being introduced to computing. Rwandas next generation will be well equipped for the challenges of the 21st century, computer literate and ready to propel the country truly into the new millennium.
A basket weaving cooperative too is on the visiting schedule, where women always the women it seems have closed ranks and are producing baskets for sale on the local and export market.
But most impressive was the final chapter in the days programme, a visit to a Reconciliation Village where victims, perpetrators and returnees live side by side, as neighbours and as seen with great surprise, as friends. It is here, in this policy of admitting guilt in public and then being forgiven, that the roots of the New Rwanda can be found. Just hearing about it of course raises huge questions, but being able to see those people living together makes a new understanding dawn. The Gacaca Court system across the country has since its inception 10 years ago dealt with over 2 million cases, something the conventional judiciary with its limitations of due process could well have taken 200 or more years quoting here a senior source from within the legal fraternity in Kigali to resolve, but here too Rwandas own way of dealing with the past succeeded. Over 1.6 million convictions were achieved, as were over 270.000 acquittals by the way, and those who confessed and asked for forgiveness were regularly made to serve a significant part of their sentence outside, doing community work before being re-integrated into society.
That left the main judiciary to pursue the masterminds, those still in hiding and those now extradited to stand trial in Rwanda, besides the ICTR in Arusha also having dealt with a number of cases referred there.
The testimony seen and heard, with those testifying showing their deep emotions and even tears, was both harrowing as well as relieving, the latter when it became evident that perpetrators and victims could after all achieve some normalcy in their lives, putting a very dark 100 days in human history behind them and now working hand in hand to build a New Rwanda together.
(Victim and perpetrator side by side, testifying about their past)
The Gacaca Court system will formally be closed down next week, after serving its purpose for the past 10 years, but the reconciliation villages will of course remain in place for as long as those involved on both sides of the genocide will live, giving ample time for visitors to Rwanda to not only come and see the gorillas, the forests, the big game and the scenic landscapes but also what the Phoenix truly looks like on the ground.
NDAs project visits are revealing, showcasing and yet prompt hard questions which in my case were answered. The victims and perpetrators do suffer from nightmares, just like all others so traumatized by what they experienced and did, only too well understood by this correspondent who in mid 94 was part of a relief mission to Rwanda and also cannot get these images and impressions out of his mind. For the people who live here, reconciliation and forgiveness seems the key to move on and for those unfortunate enough, or perhaps fortunate enough to have seen the circumstances close up and personal, they too can be a living testament that it did indeed happen and be fierce advocates of NEVER AGAIN and friends of the NEW Rwanda, where a dream appears on the way to reality.
NDAs founders, amongst them Rica Rwigamba who is now head of RDBs Tourism and Conservation Department, and in particular Anny Batamuriza Munyaneza, had a vision to showcase the beyond wildlife and landscapes experience, pass on the lessons Rwanda has to teach the world to visitors coming to The Land of a Thousand Hills, to enrich them and make them understand what the New Rwanda is based on, before going back as roving ambassadors who have seen, experienced and witnessed. Visit www.newdawnassociates.com for more information on available add ons to the conventional safaris and tours across the country covering one or more of their 6 exceptional projects while traversing the country.