Third blood ivory seizure in a month turns heat on CITES


(Posted 22nd October 2016)

A third seizure of blood ivory in a month, this time a haul worth an estimated 1 million US Dollars, was reported from Vietnam’s Cat Lai Port in Ho Chi Minh city.
Half a ton of blood ivory was found in two containers, disguised and hidden under layers of glue to avoid detection.
Authorities in the port, when the scan yielded unclear pictures, opened the containers, searched the cargo by hand and found the hidden contraband. Also found in the containers were pangolin scales, another animal nearly poached to extinction as a result of East and South Asia’s greed for animal products.
On October 06th was a ton of blood ivory seized, reportedly shipped from Mozambique while on October 01st 300 kilograms of blood ivory were found at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport offloaded from an incoming aircraft.
CITES and in particular the European Union, which backstabbed African efforts to put elephant on the highest protection standards of Appendix 1, are under increasing fire from conservationists around the world for failing Africa’s dwindling elephant populations and as a result bearing responsibility for every consignment of blood ivory smuggled out of Africa and into the main consumer markets in China and Vietnam.

Chance meetings in the Masai Mara


(Posted 22nd October 2016)

(Picture by Matthias Ringa)

When, ahead of Kenya’s annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo, a group of invited media representatives was taken to the Mara Intrepids Safari Camp, by chance did they find the former Peruvian Vice President on location too. He had come to Kenya for the third time, once in his then official capacity, and was smitten by what he saw when visiting the Kenyan safari parks.
Matthias Ringa, who writes for the Nation, made sure he covered the chance meeting and with his kind permission is his article republished below for the benefit of my readers:

Former Peruvian Vice-President Raul Diez Canseco Terry has endorsed Kenya as the best safari destination in the world.

The 68-year-old said the Maasai Mara National Reserve was the leading park on the planet and a paradise for visitors.

“When it comes to safari, I have never seen anything as magnificent as the Mara. I first came to Kenya 20 years ago,” he said.

“I have visited many places but Kenya stands above the rest in safari destinations.”

The Nation team bumped into Mr Terry at Mara Intrepids in the reserve on Saturday when he was checking out.

Mr Terry arrived in the country with his wife Luciana and sons Ignacio, 8, and six-year-old Cristobal last week.

It was his third holiday visit to the country. The second was 10 years ago, when he was vice-president.

“I was vice-president from 2001 to 2006 but before that I was the minister for Tourism,” he said.

Mr Terry, who is a businessman, said he fell for the Mara due to its abundant wildlife, alluring rolling hills and the savannah grassland.

“Peru does not have the kind of wildlife found in Kenya,” he said.

“Everywhere you go in the Mara you encounter all kinds of wildlife; from the big five to smaller animals. It is here that you get value for your money.”

Before he arrived at his favourite Mara for a three-night holiday, Mr Terry and his family spent two nights at Samburu Intrepids.

Apart from game-watching, the former Peruvian vice-president also took his wife and children for a balloon ride.

When asked which animal he enjoyed watching the most, he quickly responded: “I love all the animals.”

“I saw three cheetahs, three leopards, lots of wildebeeste, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, gazelles, lions, hippos and monkeys.”

Mr Terry said apart from the wildlife, he enjoys the unique Maasai culture and friendly workers at Mara Intrepids.

He urged the Maasai to preserve their way of life.

“Kenya has nice weather. I also came here to see where the country is in terms of development,” he said.

Asked what Kenya should do to attract more tourists, Mr Terry said there was need for more promotions, especially in Latin America.

“Only a few people know about Kenya in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and other countries in South America and the reason is lack of information,” he said.

He added that children enjoy game viewing and they would be future tourists.

“My country does not have the wildlife Kenya has yet we get four million international tourists annually,” he said.

Let’s Go Uniglobe takes home another Eco Warrior Award


(Posted 22nd October 2016)

Last Friday was Let’s Go Travel Uniglobe of Nairobi announced as the winners of the highly contested sustainability award, at a colourful event at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi, in the 2016 Eco Warrior Awards.

This is the 2nd time Let’s Go have won the prestigious award, after 2014 and becoming a finalist in 2015.

Let’s Go are also one out of only four tour operators who are piloting the Travelife international sustainability certification.

Their approach to sustainable tourism is through their declared mission objective, which is to support sustainable and responsible tourism through society and sustainable trade practice. They aim to achieve this through a sustainability policy, which strives to minimize all negative effects on the natural and social environment. In doing so, they pledged uphold professional standards, integrity and promote socially, environmentally responsible and sustainable tourism in conjunction with our business partners.

Let’s Go stated that they are committed to prevent and reduce environmental impacts, and are fully aware of thei role in the conservation of their environment and communities.

In 2015, Let’s Go introduced to the program Travelife which is a global program that certifies the sustainability of tour operators using a global sustainability criteria. Having undergone training and becoming one of the pilot partners in the country, they as a team had a realization that in becoming a much more sustainable tourism entity, they would need to go back to the basics to attain 100% sustainable eligibility.

This meant as tour operators going back to basics, with the principal effect in tourism sustainability being CONSERVATION. Let’s Go therefore made conservation their 2016 Sustainability Theme and derived a footprint on how they would achieve maximum capability in practicing conservation through internal and external practices.

(a) Internal practices – These are conservation projects within their offices and homes

(b) External practices – These are conservation projects that would directly involve communities that Let’s Go worked with in their Corporate Social Responsibility programs

The goals of these project were as follows:

1. To better internal and external conservation practices.

2. To better individual selves through polices created and projects undertaken.

3. To create awareness on importance of conservation to a younger growing generation.

4. To support advocacy through wildlife and Environment organizations

Internal Practices

1. Litter separation – Let’s Go introduced the 3 litterbins in their offices, where they would separate litter into 3 categories, Plastics, degradable and non-degradable. This would ensure that once the garbage collectors came, they would collect the plastics and resell to plastic recycling companies in the CBD.

2. Paper Recycling for charcoal briquettes – Let’s Go also introduced recycling of printing paper by double side printing, and went a little notch higher by purchasing a shredding machine, where instead of throwing away the shredded paper, they would store it in bags then taken to Limuru where Mrs. Pat Dixson (the Managing Director’s mother) would then have the shredded paper turned into charcoal briquettes. The charcoal briquettes would then be used as a source of fuel for a charity home that Let’s Go supports in Limuru called Body of Christ (BOC) and the Limuru elderly programme.

3. Water and Electricity responsible consumption.

For responsible water consumption, all water taps were changed

The company also stopped using disposable plastic cups in their drinking water dispensers instead encouraged use of reusable cups and glasses. From 5 sets of 12 plastic disposable cups per month, the company has now moved that number to zero.

For responsible electricity did Let’s Go change their lighting system into using energy saving LED state of the art bulbs.

4. Sustainability staff training. On 18th February 2016, all Uniglobe Lets Go Travel staff were given a Sustainability talk by Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda (STTA), to have all understand on why the company chose to take up the more sustainable path. The talk was to engage staff in sustainability and better understanding of the company’s 2016 theme of conservation.

5. Introduction to Permaculture. On 14th June 2016, the staff went on a field trip to Kangemi Youth Center for a talk by Jessie de Boer, a young lady who has a permaculture project at the Youth Center. Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The reason we felt this was important is because we must learn to utilize land spaces to the best of our ability and by introducing this type of agriculture to our staff it meant that they would then do it themselves and teach others in our communities, producing better food quality on minimal land as possible, accounting to better sustainable land uses.

External practices

1. 1. Conservation and Sustainability training for 5 teachers from schools in Nanyuki. In early February 2016, Let’s Go sponsored 5 teachers from different schools in Nanyuki, namely, Kalalu Secondary, Kalalu Primary, Ndemu Primary, Gakeu Primary and Umande Primary to a training program offered by African Fund For Endangered Wildlife (AFEW). The 3 day program covered sustainability on a larger scale of which after their 3 day training, they were then taken to Kyamlendu Primary school in Tala, where they got a first hand best practice of sustainability.

In May 2016, the head teachers of the above schools also came to Nairobi and underwent the same training as their teachers by AFEW to assist in the understanding of what their teachers were teaching the students on sustainability.

2. Planting Trees at Kalalu Secondary School, Nanyuki. On 15th March five staff visited the above mentioned schools to see and monitor the projects that they had undertaken since their training and whilst at Kalalu Secondary,planting trees with the aid of the students.

3. Conservation Award Sponsorship – AFEW Environmental Day Awards. For the past 2 years Let’s Go sponsored the awards by AFEW, which target to award students with outstanding in conservation.

4. Sustainability and conservation advocacy through responsible tourism advertisement using online, banners and print adverts.

For more on the company’s efforts on sustainability in tourism and the Let’s Go sustainability report click on


Abidjan receives official RwandAir inaugural flight


(Posted 22nd October 2016)

(Abidjan as seen during final approach)


We will be going to Conakry, Bamako and Dakar to improve connectivity within Africa‘ said RwandAir CEO Mr. John Mirenge last evening at the launch party hosted by his airline in Abidjan / Ivory Coast, as he greeted invited guests to a fun filled evening.
The CEO also mentioned other destinations which will be added in due course, when a second Airbus A330-300 arrives in Kigali next month. The delivery of another Boeing B737-800NG in November and one more in Q2 of 2017 will further strengthen the airline’s ability to offer additional flights across Africa and uplift traffic into its East and Southern African network via Kigali but also on to Dubai and Mumbai.

(RwandAir CEO John Mirenge greeted on the tarmac after arrival of the official inaugural flight to Abidjan’s Félix Houphouët Boigny International Airport)


(RwandAir CEO John Mirenge addressing guests at the launch party last night


Guests from the Ivory Coast government, civil aviation, diplomatic corps, business community, travel agents and corporate clients joined invited guests who came with the launch flight and had plenty of networking opportunities before the show went on the road with the launch party being officially kicking off to the sound of Rwandan drums and the performance of traditional dancers who traveled from Rwanda across the continent to Abidjan.

(Intayoberana in action in Abidjan)


This was the second inaugural flight by RwandAir in a month as just weeks ago the airline also launched Cotonou, bringing the number of West African destination to seven as of today and serving Brazzaville, Libreville, Cotonou, Douala, Lagos, Accra and Abidjan.

Serena bags major honours at EcoWarrior Awards


(Posted 21st October 2016)

(Daniel Kangu, General Manager of the Nairobi Serena Hotel, Rosemary Mugambi Director of Sales and Marketing and Mr. Charles Muia, General Manager for the Safari Lodges of Serena Hotels in Kenya, among others, are pictured above collecting their awards)

Key staff of Serena Hotels were at hand at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi last Friday night to received one Eco Warrior Award for 2016 and a runner up certificate.
Honoured were the Mombasa Serena Beach Resort & Spa for their commitment to green operations and their butterfly project and the Sweetwaters Safari Camp on Ol Pejeta which came in as runner up in a tightly contested race to the podium.
The Serena Beach Resort & Spa is located in Mombasa at Shanzu beach and won the “Best Eco-Rated Facility of 2016 – Hotel” Award. Sweetwaters Serena Camp took the first runner up position under the “Best Eco-Rated Facility 2016 – Camps” category to the delight of the Serena team present. The award ceremony took place last Friday in Nairobi and was hosted by Ecotourism Kenya, an organization that promotes responsible tourism practices within the tourism industry. This was the 11th annual Ecowarrior Awards Ceremony – an award that recognizes innovation and leadership in responsible tourism. The finalists consist of tourism initiatives from within Kenya that enhance social-cultural, economic and ecological sustainability in their operations. The gala night was part of the annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo and brought the exhibition to a fabulous close.

It has been a gratifying year for Serena Beach Resort & Spa as the property obtained the Gold Eco-Rating Certification from Ecotourism Kenya in May 2016. Serena Beach Resort & Spa is only one of the several Serena Hotels’ properties in Kenya that is Gold Eco-Rating certified together with the acclaimed Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Sweetwaters Serena Camp which are also included in this list.

Serena Beach Resort & Spa follows best practices and surpasses environmental standards commonly employed by rating agencies. Along with implementing sustainable business practices in daily operations, the Resort has placed a large focus on conservation projects along the Mombasa coast. For the past 23 years, Serena Beach Resort & Spa’s Sea Turtle Conservation Project has helped protect over 408 sea turtle nests and saw over 52,524 sea turtle eggs mature. The Resort also trains local community members on sea turtle protection through offering environmental education opportunities and training. Moreover, a weekly lecture is held at the property every Tuesday to educate guests and local communities on the importance of sea turtle conservation.

For over 13 years, the Serena Beach Resort & Spa’s Butterfly Conservation Project has helped hatch over 53,084 butterflies and protect 65 different butterfly species. The Butterfly Park located within the property is open to all, such as guests and local community members, to visit and learn more about butterfly conservation and Serena Hotels’ efforts in conservation.

Serena Beach Resort & Spa is located along the coast of Mombasa, Kenya and was one of the first Serena Hotels properties in the 1970’s and the architecture of the resort replicates the winding lanes and colourful market places of a traditional 13th century Swahili town.

Official inaugural flight from Kigali to Abidjan goes underway momentarily


(Posted 21st October 2016)

RwandAir’s top management led by CEO Mr. John Mirenge, members of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, the diplomatic corps, corporate leaders, the travel trade and media representatives are on board a B737-800NG, 9XR-WF which is momentarily taking off for the official celebratory launch flight to Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast.
Commercial flights commenced earlier in the month already and tonight will the Abidjan business and travel community be hosted by RwandAir, including members of the Ivory Coast Civil Aviation Authority, Ministry of Transport representatives and key airport personnel.
With Abidjan has the number of RwandAir destinations in West Africa now risen to 7, including Brazzaville, Libreville, Cotonou, Douala, Lagos and Accra.
With the November arrival of another brand new Boeing B737-800NG and a second Airbus A330, the larger -300 variant, will RwandAir’s fleet rise to 11 aircraft, for the first time reaching double digit numbers in the airline’s history.
New destinations will then be launched, among them Mumbai and in January Harare, which might be combined with Lusaka, returning Johannesburg to nonstop services.
Stand by for news from Abidjan’s launch party later tonight or early tomorrow morning before the aircraft with all the guests on board returns to Kigali.

Excitement in Kenya with a family of Cheetahs

Only in Kenya …

A curious Cheetah got up close and personal with a Jeep on safari at the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya when the animal jumped into the back seat of a jeep. The wild cat, with its razor sharp claws and teeth, sure is one kitty you’d rather not have curling up on your lap. But, nevertheless, the bold animal hopped into the back seat of a jeep as it drove through the African plains – much to the shock of an Irishman inside.

After entering the vehicle, it slowly sauntered over to Mickey McCaldin until it was barely a foot away from his face. Family friend David Horsey captured the tense standoff between the pair as it looked like the cheetah was going to make himself comfortable on Mickey’s lap. David, 62 from Mombasa, Kenya, said: ‘I’ve been living in Kenya all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this. ‘The cheetah just wasn’t scared of getting up close and personal. At first Mickey was really relaxed but I think he was quite concerned it might try and sit in his lap.

‘Unlike a domestic cat, you certainly don’t want that.’

At first, the cheetah simply looked at Irish tourist Mickey McCaldin curiously, but then it moved closer as if to curl up on his lap

At one point, the large cat was so close to Mickey that it was only about a foot away from his face Family friend David Horsey captured the tense standoff between the pair, including the moment that the animal leapt into the safari jeep making himself comfortable: The cheeky cheetah and his family casually lounged atop the group’s Land Cruiser jeep

David captured the pictures on June 12, as the group tracked a well-known family of cheetahs, whose mother is called Malaika. Having followed them for a couple of days previously, they observed that the family hadn’t had a kill for several days. David said: ‘The family had been looking for a gazelle for a few days with no luck. ‘As we’d been around for a couple of days, I think they were used to the jeep so the mom jumped on top to get a better view. ‘I think the other cheetah tried to follow her up but went a different way. ‘Once it had got bored of Mickey it turned away and looked out of the vehicle for a few minutes. ‘It just jumped out afterwards.’

Photographer David, 62 from Mombasa, Kenya, said: ‘I’ve been living in Kenya all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this’

Surprise of their lives! The safari group was comprised of a guide, as well as Mickey, his wife, sister, photographer David and David’s wife.Mickey was out on vacation with his wife and sister, who are friends of David and his wife Vicky. David said: ‘Vicky and I have lived in Kenya all our lives but we never feel the urge to leave. ‘People always ask us where we’re going on vacation and it’s always around the game reserves. ‘You never know what you’re going to come across – just like this.’

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