Archive for August 3rd, 2012
INTERNATIONAL ELEPHANT CONFERENCE PLANNED FOR JULY 2013 AT ZULU NYALA LODGE
An international elephant conference has been convened to discuss the plight, and future on the continent of Africa, of the remaining elephant herds, which are increasingly endangered and pushed into ever smaller habitats with ancient migration routes being cut off by fenced farms, ranched and housing to cater for massively expanded populations. The dates now given for the planned international elephant conference are July 03rd to 07th next year, according to one of the main promoters of the idea to give enough time to key speakers, international elephant experts and globally renowned conservationists to schedule an attendance or else be available for a speaking assignment.
Never before was the plight of the African elephants greater as across the continent a mass slaughter continues, driven by the greed and endless hunger in China and some other East and South Asian nations for ivory carvings.
In Cameroon were earlier in the year hundreds of elephant mowed down with automatic weapons, the carcasses stripped of the tusks and often parts of the tail with the equally valued elephant hair, and then left to rot.
In Southern Africa but increasingly also in Eastern Africa have the elephant become targets for gangs of commercial poachers, equipped with sophisticated communications gear, often using silencers for rifles or resorting to using poisoned spears and arrows to avoid alerting the anti poaching units.
As an added component have in Kenya gangs of brainwashed Masai criminals taken their own rage, or often rather their masters instructions, out on wildlife, killing lions indiscriminately and only recently a nearly tame elephant, whom they speared to death, exploiting the trusting nature of Ezra, one of the patriarch elephants of Amboseli National Park. Enough has been said elsewhere, in the Kenyan media and in the columns of the social networks, but the fact nevertheless remains, that Africas wildlife is under assault like never before for their trophies, the medicinally absolutely useless rhino horns and the tusks, much of which ends up smuggled to the East to be turned into quack medicine or carved seals, chop sticks or figures.
In South Africa the rhino deaths over the past three years stand at over 1.000, alarming by any standard and putting the survival of the entire species at risk, and in comparison, over the past 100 years have the great herds of elephant been decimated to less than 5 percent of what they used to be. Growing populations are now pushing into previously unproductive or the least productive agricultural areas in countries across Africa, especially East Africa, causing conflict with wildlife previously left alone and having wildlife managers reeling under the sudden onslaught of violent reactions by people, who should not be in such fringe areas in the first place.
Said Mandy Young, one of the promoters of the international elephant conference, when asked about the purposed but also the shift of dates from what was initially scheduled to be September this year: The vision for the International Elephant Conference arrived because of the challenges Land Owners of Small Game Reserves face with Elephant Management. In addition the Elephant Norms and Standards for Elephant Management became a part of the National Environmental Management of Biodiversity Act in February, 2008.
[But] I think there needs to be an [intensified] build up to the International Elephant Conference in order to get the right participants there [not only from South Africa but from the entire
continent, wherever there are issues with poaching and management of the
herds]. You can see some information leading to the conference on the following links: Beuga, the Matriarch of an Elephant Herd I researched between 2002-2005, an elephant herd I often took people to observe when facilitating Wisdom of Elephant self-discovery wildlife experiences, was shot on 31st October, 2011, the last day before her Destruction Permit would have ended. Her death has not been in vain and I think it would be a good time to relate her story and the good consequences that have been the result of action taken since her death. One of those actions has been the establishment of the International Elephant Conference www.elephantconference.co.za where prominent speakers like Gay Bradshaw, author of Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach us About Humanity, will establish the vision of the Conference to influence
elephant management in a way that will hopefully minimize human-elephant conflict and ensure ‘transfrontier’ [as well as domestic and regional
migration] corridors to make biodiversity and elephant survival possible.
Please will you tell this story and inform your readers about the up and coming International Elephant Conference in the build up to the Conference which now takes place from July 03 07, 2013. The dates were changed to accommodate speakers who were not able to make the dates earlier given.
Gladly done, from one conservation friend to another, to ensure the widest possible publicity and eventual participation in this important African meeting, where the conservation fraternity can also map out a new approach and strategy towards the increasingly unsustainable and barely understood policies of CITES vis a vis the trade in wildlife products, in particular ivory. Watch this space.
Rwanda’s tourism industry continues to perform above average with 11 percent growth for first half of 2012
Tourism continues to perform way above average for Rwandas economy, with a reported 11 percent rise in revenues generated for the first six months of 2012, up from the previous year by nearly 13 million US Dollars to 128.3 million US Dollars, a new record result for the Land of a Thousand Hills.
The second half of the year, now underway, is expected to see a further revenue rise as the permit fees for gorillas has been raised, effective June this year, to now 750 US Dollars per person, a move which reportedly had little if any impact on the forward bookings for tracking permits.
Gorilla tourism remains Rwandas number one tourism activity but a determined programme of diversification in recent years has seen new tourism attractions receive more visitors and greater exposure by the international travel and tourism media. The Congo Nile Trail along the shores and through the hills along Lake Kivu or the Nyungwe national park with its unique tree canopy walk and a growing networks of hiking trails into and through the forest, with 1.000 square kilometres the largest montane rainforest in the wider Eastern African region have made an impact on the global adventure travel trade and attracted thousands of more visitors coming specifically to experience these new tourism products.
The establishment of birding trails, both inside and outside of protected areas like parks and reserves, has also drawn additional visitors to the country and should indeed Gishwati forest be turned into a national park in due course, this would only add to the growing attractiveness of Rwanda as a key destination.
MICE tourism too is now being actively promoted by the Rwanda Development Boards Tourism and Conservation Department, and the opening next year of a brand new Marriott Hotel and Conference Centre in the heart of Kigali will aid the marketing campaign already underway to turn Kigali into a meeting and conferences destination.
These new marketing initiatives were greatly aided by the arrival of new airlines such as Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, and the return of South African Airways, and the anticipated arrival of an additional two brand new CRJ900 jets for RwandAir in October will undoubtedly result in yet more travelers reaching Rwanda with even greater ease from the region, from across the African continent and from around the world.
Ms. Rica Rwigamba, who is heading the tourism and conservation department at RDB, when asked on the impact of the current problems in Eastern Congo on Rwanda Tourism, had this to say: Rwandas tourism progress is attributed to peace and security. Visitor safety is guaranteed as usual. We would like to reassure visitors to Rwanda that it is business as usual here and that it is extremely safe and secure to travel to and within the country. The all-in-one experience in Rwanda from diverse wildlife in the national parks, to the magnificent scenery, amazing climate and the rare mountain gorillas, peace and security continues to be a magnetic for visitors in Rwanda. She then added some insight into the economic equation of tourism on the national economy when she concluded: There was a noticeable increase in revenues, visits and value of registered tourism investments as well as projected jobs created in the first semester. We believe that if we continue to achieve as reflected by the results in the first half, we will indeed surpass our targets and more importantly, this will drive growth and generate wealth for Rwandans.
Well done once again Rwanda and does it not show that small is not only beautiful but can make quite an impact when, as is the case here, the powers that be are fully behind the tourism industry and support conservation efforts and in particular re-forestation across all sections of society.
Join the queue comes to mind when news emerged in Nairobi overnight that Lufthansa Technik has sued Fly 540 over an unpaid bill for the repair of an aircraft engine. The suit was brought before the High Court in Nairobi, where another suit over allegedly unpaid fuel bills is also pending, spelling more troubles yet for the low cost airline which seems to attract such controversies in fair measure. Lufthansa Technik is demanding a major multimillion Kenya Shillings settlement for work carried out on an aircraft engine, which while being opened up emerged to be in much worse of a shape than initially thought, requiring significant extra work, something Fly 540 now disputes while accusing Lufthansa Technik to have exaggerated the repair cost. A provisional court hearing date has been set for October 19th according to information availed from a regular aviation source in Nairobi, where the industry continues to watch closely everything to do with Fly 540, in particular after the airlines runway incident a day earlier in Eldoret.
This latest controversy will do little to strengthen market confidence for the carrier which in the past has been plagued by a number of operational challenges with flight delays, and at least one court case being cited as a reason for the holdup of the completion of a share transfer from Lonrho to Rubicon Diversified, aimed to rebrand the airline as FastJet, reposition it in the market and introduce a number of new aircraft. Make sure you watch this space as the Fly 540 saga continues to rage on.
The management of the Chui, as the Leopard Beach Resort and Spa is fondly referred to by friends and aficionados, has confirmed that the present rebuilding of parts of the resort damaged by a fire two months ago, is one course for a provisional reopening date of 12th December, just in time for the Christmas and New Year season.
It is understood that sections of the hotel damaged by the fire have been taken down and are being rebuilt from scratch, giving the Chui and even fresher look as brand new, state of the art facilities can now be introduced, making a virtue out of the tragedy.
The hotel management also confirmed that the construction of the 28 new garden and forest villas, offering either two or three bedrooms, remains on course for a full opening in early 2013, offering a new standard of resort accommodation for discerning travelers with their own private pools and a separate fusion restaurant, which will add to the 5 restaurants already in place across the sprawling resort complex on one of Kenyas finest beaches.
Chris Modigell, the brain behind the continued success and popularity of the Chui expressed his satisfaction with the rebuilding progress while pointing out that the exact re-opening date would depend on the timely arrival of newly ordered furniture and equipment, the approvals from local authorities for the re-building of the affected sections of the resort in a modernized style and the timely settlement of the remaining insurance payouts.
Notably, it is also Chris Modigells birthday today, so happy birthday to him and all the best to the entire team at the Chui towards the reopening of this award winning resort.
Reports from Kenya speak of a runway incident at Eldorets International Airport yesterday morning, when a Fly 540 plane reportedly veered off the runway, fortunately not injuring any of the passengers on board, all of whom escaped a potential tragedy by a whisker.
Kenyas Civil Aviation Authority has according to the source in Nairobi started to investigate the incident to establish if pilot error or a technical failure were responsible for the plane coming off the runway, or if any contributory factors like runway conditions or weather could have played a role.
While Fly540 did not have any accidents with passenger aircraft in the past, two of their F27 freighters crashed in recent years, a record which will undoubtedly be looked at afresh by the KCAA team now put into place to get to the bottom of this latest incident involving a Fly 540 aircraft. Watch this space for regular and breaking aviation news from the Eastern African region.