Chinese ivory kingpin in Tanzania faces up to 30 years in jail if found guilty


(Posted 08th October 2015)

A Chinese citizen who lived in Tanzania for at least the last 16 years, was arrested earlier in the week by a special task force and charged in the Kisutu Magistrate’s court together with two Tanzanian accomplices, accused to have been responsible for trafficking of blood ivory worth at least 5.4 billion Tanzania Shillings. Evidence appears to link her to at least 700 blood ivory tusks but regular sources immediately suggested that the true extent of her involvement in the illegal ivory trade, which saw in recent years tens of thousands of elephant slaughtered, might be considerably greater.

Miss Yang Fen Glan was reportedly not required to take plea as the case will eventually be heard at a higher court. She was kept in remand until next Monday when the case comes up for mention. The prosecution cited her escape from police custody when detained earlier in the year but was eventually re-arrested and quoted as a flight risk if granted bail.

The prosecution alleges that she committed a wide range of offenses between January 2000 and May 2015, among them her complicity in illegal ivory trade, export, financing of poaching and related crimes. She reportedly first came to Tanzania in the 1970’s and has since then been in and out of the country. Following her arrest she was immediately dubbed as ‘Queen of Ivory’ by the local media in Tanzania.

(File photo of Yang Fan Glan)

It is understood that the accused has been placed under special watch to both prevent any potential escape plot but also to avoid that she can be reached by other kingpins and individuals thought high up in government she might expose in court, hoping for leniency when it comes to sentencing.

Another Chinese woman was arraigned in court last week, when a Miss Li Ling together with local accomplices was charged over the illegal export of ivory on a Swiss airlines flight to Zurich as was reported here a few months ago.

The case is seen as a breakthrough to penetrate the blood ivory cartel which has been operating with near impunity in Tanzania while the government stood by for years, first denying and then belittling the poaching crisis before, when exposed in the global media, grudgingly admitting that the problem had gotten out of hand.

In the Selous alone, according to more recent game counts, were over 50.000 elephant lost to poaching and in the Ruaha ecosystem were elephant numbers decimated to a mere one third of the former population.

Across Africa is it primarily Chinese citizens who are caught at airports and sea ports with blood ivory, smearing the country’s name, while the Chinese administration at home has until very recently done very little to credibly stem the exploding demand for ivory products from their nouvelle rich clique. Stunned by the global sentiment, which raised more outrage than other open political issues like human rights or the Tibet question, among others, did the Chinese government eventually begin the take the global outrage more seriously and has began to stem the importation of ivory in cooperation with other Western nations like the US.

Yang Fen’s case will be closely watched in the region and around the globe to see if the judiciary is up to the task and immune to bribes which in the past were the main obstacle to having suspects arrested, arraigned, prosecuted and jailed.

In a related development was it learned that the accused was recently also in Uganda to where she had reportedly escaped following an earlier attempt to arrest her but was on her return spotted and arrested. She, according to information received from a source in Dar es Salaam, owns a large Chinese restaurant and is also a senior figure in the Tanzania – China Business Council, where her arrest has caused acute embarrassment and cause for concern who will be next on the special task force arrest list from among the individuals she habitually did business and interacted with.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee News


Chimpanzee Trust September 2015 bulletin

Make a donation today to the welfare of chimpanzees in our care at Ngamba Island. #everypennycounts

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Chimpanzee Trust
Plot 1, Bank Close
P.O.Box 884
Entebbe, Uganda
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Baby Chimp Grows Teeth

The baby chimp made 6 months on the 27th September and he is healthy and weighing 4.5kg, grown 6 pairs of teeth and he has started eating some fruits; bananas and water melon. He has grown stronger and very active, spends most of his time running, playing, climbing and swinging on objects.

The baby is well bonded with his Caregivers; he is very protective of them especially the Primary Caregiver, Mrs. Betty Angucia and reacts to strangers by barking and screaming.

The baby is often exposed to the other chimpanzees while in the holding facility but he gets scared of the adult chimps when they are screaming and fighting. He responds by holding firm onto the Caregiver.

The rest of the chimps are all in good health.

Special recognition:
Our sincere appreciations to ENV Technologies and the President and CEO, Ms. Mary Moran for the donation of a solar water filter for the operations at Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Loud pant hoots!


spacer.gif Addressing Environmental Challenges


Pupils from Nayonyi Nursery and Primary school debating

Fishing communities are some of the marginalized communities of Uganda, with relatively low school turn up, coupled with the highest dropout rate of about 66% (Save the Children, June 2009). School going age children are always engaged in fishing at an early age as there are few schools on the islands coupled with few qualified teachers.

It is evident that greater engagement and utilization of youth in the ongoing and future development of Uganda is irrefutably critical to its success. The use of annual events such as debates and quiz competitions provide school experiences that encourage children to stay in school, while addressing the most pressing issues within their community.

The Chimpanzee Trust with support from Born Free Foundation organized 8 participating schools for a debate and quiz competition that took place on the 25th September 2015 at Buyana RC Primary School, Koome Islands on Lake Victoria. This year’s topic was, "Youth and NOT adults are responsible for social economic and environmental challenges of Uganda." This activity helped to create awareness, knowledge and build skills of the children from the participating schools in the areas of environment, health and social issues regarding culture, early marriages, corruption and unemployment .


spacer.gif15165c61-23d4-46aa-a9d6-90b8ff0547b8.jpg Conservation Ambassadors in Hoima and Kibaale


Community monitors at the Hoima Office

Blank Park Zoo and its partners donated field materials and equipment to the Conservation Ambassadors also known as the Community Monitors who work with the Chimpanzee Trust in Hoima and Kibaale districts. The Conservation Ambassadors whose roles are as Wildlife Rangers, are at the fore-front of wildlife conservation on private land, with special attention to monitoring chimpanzees and their habitats, in addition to promoting sustainable usage of natural resources within the landscape including conservation farming and forest based enterprises.

These Conservation Ambassadors who come from within the communities have been working with the Chimpanzee Trust since 2009, to conserve the remaining chimpanzee habitat in the Albertine Rift Landscape. The Chimpanzee Trust’s Executive Director, Lilly Ajarova handed over the donated items to the Ambassadors on September 10, 2015 at our Hoima Field Office.

Katende Denis, a Conservation Ambassador from Kiryanga Sub County, Kibaale District notes; "The support we are getting from Blank Park Zoo and its partners is contributing to the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitat in Uganda, and I am proud that the work, we are doing is being recognized worldwide"




Vanilla Islands news update

A partnership with regional scope signed in Mauritius
After announcing a 12% increase across all the inter-islands since the start of the year, the Vanilla Islands continue with their activity programme under the presidency of Xavier-Luc DUVAL the Deputy Prime-Minister and Tourism Minister of Mauritius.

Consequently, a partnership between the Union of Chambers of Commerce and the Industry of the Indian Ocean Islands (UCCIOI), and the Vanilla Islands organisation was signed this afternoon in Mauritius.

In addition to the existing offer, this technical and financial partnership should enable the development, across all the islands, of fair trade tourist products that support ecotourism.

Over three years, the French Development Agency has provided the partners of the agreement with a sum of 310,000 euros for the creation, development and marketing of offers, in collaboration with the tourism stakeholders of the islands.

Respect for the environment, the involvement of local populations, and cultural development are among the criteria that form the basis of the operations.

The director of the association, Pascal Viroleau, suggests that tourism stakeholders who have, or wish to create, cultural, fair trade, and cooperative products which support ecotourism, should join forces with the Vanilla Islands: "We wish to put the Indian Ocean in a stronger position with regard to these issues, by helping the stakeholders to involve themselves in inter-island products, and to increase their turnover.”

It is a real demonstration of regional cooperation, thanks also to small organisations finding new markets.

About the Vanilla Islands
The Vanilla Islands is an organisation that promotes the Indian Ocean islands; Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion island and Seychelles:

Follow the news on social networks:

Contact: info

Pascal VIROLEAU, Chief Executive Officer of Vanilla Islands and Fahmy THABIT, President of UCCIOI

This African LCC breaks new ground by partnering with Gulf giant


(Posted 08th October 2015)

In breaking news can it now be revealed that Fastjet and Emirates have signed an extensive cooperation deal, which while not exactly an interline agreement still provides for the mighty Gulf giant to sell Fastjet’s tickets on routes beyond Emirates’ destinations in Eastern and Southern Africa to where Fastjet also flies.

Included in the deal is the uplift of baggage though the specifications for that contractual element, if it will include the internationally used 2×23 KG’s for economy class ticket holders, 2×32 KG’s for business class ticket holders and 2×40 KG’s for first class ticket holders, is still to be confirmed.

Passengers booking their travel with Emirates to for instance Dar es Salaam can from today onwards fly with Fastjet to Kilimanjaro, Mwanza or Mbeya on the domestic network, making this arrangement mutually beneficial for both carriers. In Zimbabwe, when flights are launched on the 28th of October will Victoria Falls be within reach for travelers booked on Emirates, as Fastjet then connects the capital Harare three times a week with the arguably most famous destination, the might waterfalls of the Zambezi River, shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It is understood that the deal will extend to Zambia too when Fastjet commences operations out of Lusaka, expected to happen in December this year.

This milestone agreement validates Fastjet’s efforts over the past two years to position itself as a safe and reliable airline meeting the standards Emirates no doubt applies before selecting partners for such close up cooperation.

For breaking and regular aviation news from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands look no further but this space.

Bad start for Lufthansa’s planned return to Nairobi as changes upset the market


(Posted 08th October 2015)

Lufthansa, which forced partner Brussels Airlines off the Nairobi route in exchange for flights to Accra / Ghana, is coming under severe and sustained critique for their apparent U-turn to scale back the number of services operated from the envisaged four to just three, in addition to which a smaller aircraft is now scheduled to operate the Frankfurt to Nairobi flights from mid October.

The news a few months ago that Brussels Airlines, which operated an Airbus A330-200 from Brussels via either Bujumbura or Kigali to Nairobi before returning to Brussels nonstop, had been pushed to accept a deal reportedly forced upon them by senior partner Lufthansa, to yield the route to Kenya to them, had caused some serious consternation among travelers and travel agents alike.

At the end of the 1990’s did Lufthansa ditch the Nairobi route under the flimsy pretext of not having a suitable aircraft after the sale of their Airbus A310 fleet, though insiders at the time speculated that the Africa management forced the decision over revenues as flights to destinations like Asmara and Addis Ababa continued uninterrupted. ‘They could not stand the competitive heat over low fares, that is the truth about what happened back then’ volunteered a Nairobi based travel agent before adding ‘We were happy with Brussels Airlines. They were punctual, offered good fares and good service. Many of us are sad that they were pushed out of Nairobi and the latest news about Lufthansa now scaling back flights from four to three is just a reminder how they abandoned Nairobi 15 years ago. In fact, if the rumours are true that they intend to use a small single aisle aircraft they are very mistaken if they think they will make an impact in Kenya. Airlines like Qatar or Etihad use the Airbus A320 but that is only for a flight of about 5 hours. Frankfurt to Nairobi is eight plus hours and squeezing people into a small aircraft will be self-defeating. The Gulf airlines, BA, KLM, Turkish will all have a field day to demolish Lufthansa’s sales efforts’.

Another senior travel agent rubbished the Lufthansa return altogether when commenting on the emerging news that the airline planned to scrap the Sunday flight and change the aircraft from a wide body to a Boeing B737-700: ‘For one an airline like Lufthansa is expected to operate daily flights and absorb the startup cost until the route is profitable. Secondly, reducing the already ridiculous four flights to three is doing their reputation a lot of extra damage. People are asking why do you come back with a very limited service? Thirdly, the distance is just too long to use a single aisle aircraft for the route, a very bad way to relaunch and re-enter Kenya. Fourthly, even when they eventually bring a wide body it is an old Airbus A340, in other words they offload their rubbish equipment on the Kenyan market. Why, and I asked you that before, did they not just let things be as they were. They codeshared with Swiss and Brussels Airlines and it worked well. This is just an ego trip for them it seems and the way they are starting up makes them a laughing stock. You wait and see how the likes of Emirates, Qatar, Turkish, KLM and BA will take them apart. Foolish, very foolish’.

Wait and see it for sure is as all eyes are on the inaugural flight and what whoever comes to Nairobi to represent Lufthansa on the occasion will have to say in mitigation of such poorly planned changes sprung on the Kenyan market at the very last moment.

We had high hopes for a big global airline like Lufthansa to come back to Nairobi’ said a regular source close to the Kenya Tourism Board before adding ‘Now it seems for whatever commercial reasons they have they are not delivering what they promised. That is a big letdown because the net effect, after Brussels Airlines goes away, is a loss of available seats, not an increase as we were told. This is very disappointing from a company like Lufthansa, very disappointing’.

No doubt will the airline now use spin doctors and local PR links to mitigate this rather unmitigated re-entry disaster and everyone will watch their next moves and the reasons they will give to the public.


Aviation is, as my readers by now know, a key topic on this blog and regularly provides breaking news ahead of many mainstream news media. Readers regularly demand yet more aviation content and AFRAA, the African Airline Association, provides exactly that with their monthly news updates.
Sadly will there be no live reporting from the AFRAA 47th Annual General Assembly as a clash of assignments made the decision necessary to rather attend the Africa Travel Association meetings in Nairobi instead of the AFRAA AGA but be sure to read about key issues discussed in Brazzaville and resolutions taken right here when the meeting goes underway between 08th and 10th of November.

Fastjet Zimbabwe – set to fly high according to the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer


(Posted 08th October 2015)

When Fastjet Zimbabwe yesterday announced the launch date for their first route, from Harare to Victoria Falls on the 28th of October, and opened sales at an entry level of US Dollars 20 plus taxes and regulatory fees, one way, were hundreds of tickets sold in a matter of hours already, some as far ahead as February 2016.

Richard Bodin, Chief Commercial Officer, in an exclusive phone interview with this correspondent last evening confirmed that the company had appointed one of Harare’s leading travel agencies, Star Travel, as their General Sales Agent for Zimbabwe and that dedicated sales offices will be opened over the coming days and weeks in Harare, Victoria Falls and other key locations across the country, as more domestic destinations are expected to be served.

Flights to Victoria Falls will initially operate three times a week but when the new airport extension – an expanded runway and new passenger terminal are nearing completion – will be opened and more international traffic stream into Vic Falls, is an increase of the flight schedule to sooner rather than later daily flights almost inevitable.

While Richard was understandably not specific as to the regional destinations Fastjet expects to be designated by the Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority it is an open secret that flights to Johannesburg and Lusaka are high on the agenda. So of course are flights to other regional capitals across Southern and Eastern Africa with Dar es Salaam already served daily out of Dar.

Subject to getting landing rights according to the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreements Zimbabwe has in place will Fastjet place a second aircraft in Harare and procurement has already started for another Airbus A319. Richard in fact expressed his supreme confidence in the Zimbabwe venture when he said ‘I personally think we will be at four airframes [aviation speak for aircraft] in Zimbabwe by the end of next year’.

Considering that Fastjet Tanzania has flown month after month since the airline’s launch into new record territory vis a vis passengers uplifted is it expected that Zimbabweans too will quickly shift their loyalty to the new airline, which in Tanzania has a 95 percent on time departure record and given tens of thousands of Tanzanians the chance to fly with fares they can afford, allowing them to shift from the hazards of road transport to the much safer air transport.

Watch this space when in the morning additional breaking news will be revealed here as Fastjet now clearly is on the roll, or rather flying high through the African skies as THE emerging Pan African Low Cost Carrier.


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