HOT AIR BALLON FESTIVAL TO SUPPORT KENYA’S ANTI POACHING CAMPAIGN
(Posted 23rd August 2013)
An international line up of hot air balloons will congregate in Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve between 06th and 08th of December this year, to throw their support behind the growing momentum of Kenya’s anti poaching campaign. Organized by Prestige Travel the event hopes to see dozens of foreign hot air balloons take to the skies over the Masai Mara and the international media is expected to cover the three days of aerial spectacle over the reserve. Several teams from Europe and the United States have already confirmed their participation but as the publicity spreads more confirmations are sure to come.
Poaching has become Kenya’s conservation enemy number one and only yesterday was a Chinese woman, who got nabbed at the international airport a few days ago, sentenced to 31 months in prison in a landmark ruling, which shocked her and her lawyer after she had pleaded guilty hoping to escape with a token fine, as has been the case until now. ‘There is now a new resolve to deal with this problem. In the past smugglers paid a few hundred dollars fine and were let go. Now we confiscate the ivory, they pay fines and they go to jail. Let that message go out loud and clear. You get caught in Kenya with ivory, you try to smuggle it out, you go to jail, full stop. If Kenyans get caught abroad smuggling contraband, they also are sent to prison and we now do what should have been done so long ago. Dozens of cases were reported with small fines and the culprits are on the next plane. Our outrage knew no bounds then and why it took so long we will never fully understand. Any magistrate now handing fines instead of jail terms can expect to be immediately investigated and reported to the Judicial Service Commission for action. Next will be to send poachers down for 10 or 15 years. Wildlife is the back bone of our tourism industry. Destroy our wildlife and you destroy the most important economic sector we have’ commented a regular conservation source from Nairobi when passing the information about the balloon festival yesterday evening.
Another source did point out though that in view of the short time available till December all necessary approvals need to be secured, from civil aviation to the park managers at the Narok County Government to be certain that all regulatory permissions have been obtained so that the event can take to the skies. Watch this space.