Monday, 31 March 2014

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Nairobi animal orphanage set for massive expansion and modernization

The Nairobi Animal Orphanage (NAO) is set to more than double its size in the coming months thanks to an elaborate expansion project initiated by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) management two years ago.
The popular facility, located just after the entrance to Nairobi National Park will increase its current acreage of 2.36Ha (5.8 acres) by an additional 4.70Ha (11.6 acres). Already suitable land have been identified, approved and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted in consultation with stakeholders.
In fulfilling its mandate, KWS endeavors to conserve wild animals in their natural habitats. This is a challenging task and in some situations it becomes imperative that some animals be conserved ex-situ in captivity.
Such animals include orphaned or abandoned young ones which cannot survive on their own in the wild, severely injured or sick animals whose survival in the wild is compromised after recovery as well as animals held in breach of the law.
It is for this reason that the Nairobi Animal Orphanage (NAO) was established in 1963 with the primary objective of providing refuge and nurturing such animals.
A release strategy exists for species that can be rehabilitated back to the wild. However, for species that cannot be released back to the wild for diverse reasons such as homing instincts, inability to fend for themselves and familiarity with humans which would make them gravitate towards human settlements, the facility becomes a permanent home for these individuals for purposes of nurturing them.
Besides serving as home to animals in challenging situations, the presence of these animals at the NAO leads to other critical uses. These include educating the public about wildlife and their natural habitats, promotion of tourism, research geared towards enhancing animal welfare as well as providing information that can be used to conserve sites, populations and raising funds to conserve wild living populations.
By virtue of its location and the close interaction between animals and visitors, the facility has over the years become a popular attraction for both local and international visitors.
This is an excellent facility offering both local and foreign visitors a rare opportunity to “interact” with wild animals in the city of Nairobi where the facility is located within Nairobi National Park. Having been established more than fifty years ago, NAO no doubts requires a modern face. In cognizant of this, KWS management and the Board of Trustees in 2012 initiated a move to expand the facility and address some of its shortcomings.
For example some animal enclosures do not provide them with sufficient space, proper fortification and generally an environment that mimics the wild habitat. Wild animals in captivity would require these basic rights as much as possible for stimulation and expression of their most natural behaviors.
Subsequently, some animals have been known to develop abnormal behaviours such as pacing and rocking due to inadequacies of these basic needs. We are working on the layout of the enclosures to modify them to avoid a situation that brings stress to the various species. A case in point is where some predator species such as the big cats are housed next to or in the vision of hoofed stock and primates. This has the potential to cause severe fear and distress to both groups.
NAO has in the recent past been receiving increased number of animals to be nurtured in captivity, thus the need to increase the acreage to accommodate the rising numbers. Currently we are addressing the challenge of overcrowding which has resulted in several animals being kept together in small sized enclosures. This has the potential to cause stress in animals especially the less dominant ones through fear and distress.
Additionally, overcrowding causes conflicts and aggression among the animals. The issue of space is critical and urgent measures have been put in place to construct properly planned enclosures with appropriate and attractive layout to avoid congestion. The increased visitation over the years without corresponding increment in space has resulted to human congestion which can be stressful to the animals.
The overall objective of the expansion and modernization project is to enhance captive animal welfare and promote conservation education and awareness. The specific objectives are to:
  • Redesign the existing enclosures to internationally recommended standards to address spatial requirements
  • Build additional and up to standard enclosures to address overcrowding
  • Enrich animal enclosures to mimic the animal(s) natural habitat(s)
  • Zone the facility based on species to address inappropriate layout
  •  Build a modern nursery and well equipped clinic to promote veterinary care
  • Provide appropriate facilities to promote conservation education and awareness
  • Expand the acreage of the existing facility to address congestion (enclosures and human)
The expected benefits will include enhanced animal welfare, increased conservation education and awareness as well as visitor satisfaction.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Kenya Big Cats Safaris.

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Leopard in Mara Plains.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Kenya Wildlife Service statement on status of wildlife conservation

The new Wildlife Act, 213
 The enactment of a new law heralds a new beginning on addressing threats to wildlife conservation and institutionalising efficient management of wildlife and seeks to secure, in law, communities benefits. This has given Kenya the toughest wildlife law in Africa. KWS will leverage on the law to safeguard wildlife.
A suspected poacher was on Monday March 18, 2014 at 1.45 am shot dead in Lake Nakuru National Park while two of his accomplices’ escaped. The body was taken to the mortuary in Nakuru and assorted weapons, including a bow, four poisoned arrows, spear and food, taken by police.  Kenya Wildlife Service acting Director General Mr William Kiprono flew to the scene of crime in Lake Nakuru National Park where he addressed journalists and KWS staff. He was accompanied by Mr Francis Kirathe, County AP Commander, Mr Mohammed Birik the County Commissioner and Mr Mbogo County CID boss.
Mr Kiprono noted that Lake Nakuru was one of the most hit by poaching of rhinos, having lost four since the beginning of the year.Vigilant KWS rangers responded swiftly and recovered horns from three of them while poachers took away one horn.  At national level, 16 rhinos have been lost, with 13 killed by poachers and three due to natural causes. Last year, Kenya lost a total of 59 rhinos. 
Thirty elephants have been poached since January this year compared 302 elephants in the whole of last year (2013). These statistics point to an emerging appetite of rhinos horns for an estimated population of 1,036 in the country. However, there is a decline of elephant poaching numbers from 384 in 2012 to 302 elephants in 2013. 
 KWS has laid out strategies to counter the runaway poaching for these species and general protection of all wildlife landscapes. KWS has created and equipped a Rapid Deployment Unit to provide support to ranger teams in areas thought to be highly vulnerable including conservancies that host endangered species. This team will join the inter-agency anti-poaching crack unit that was deployed in Narok, Tsavo and Isiolo.
KWS is continuing to build capacity of rangers to address emerging poaching methods. The training academy in Manyani has developed relevant curriculum in relation to emerging challenges.
KWS has heightened collaboration with other law enforcement agencies in the country and beyond as well as more robust intelligence gathering. The collaboration includes follow-ups on suspected poaching gangs, surveillance in all port of entry and exits and overt operations in wildlife areas. It has also roped in the Judiciary and the Office of Director of Public Prosecution in view of securing convictions for arrested perpetrators of wildlife crimes.
KWS partnership with communities living in wildlife-inhabited areas has enabled the organisation to foil numerous poaching incidents at the planning stage as members of the public volunteered information.   
In retrospect, in cases where poachers committed crime, prompt and sustained follow-ups were undertaken leading to arrest of 1,549 offenders last year. KWS law enforcement units were involved in active operations that led to active engagements with poachers leading to recovery of 68 fire arms and 2,630 rounds of ammunitions. 
KWS also recovered 13.5 tonnes of contraband ivory at the port of Mombasa and 10,106kg of bush meat last year. Majority of these smuggled contraband ivory had entered Kenya from neighbouring countries.There has been a decline in the desire by smugglers to use Kenyan ports to smuggle contraband ivory since we heightened surveillance there.
Sharon C

Friday, 14 March 2014

Good news as East Africa joint single tourist visa goes live in Berlin, Germany

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda recenly presented their joint single tourist visa to the world during the just-ended International Tourism Bourse (ITB)  in  Berlin, Germany.  Heads of delegations from the three East Africa Community nations that are part of a tripartite agreement praised the move on the visa, launched three weeks ago by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as a bold move that will boost regional integration and ease the movement of tourists across the region.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East Africa Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Ms Phyllis Kandie said whereas in the past tourists visiting the three countries had to seek separate visas in a cumbersome and costly process, all they needed now was to acquire one visa at  100 US dollars and visit the three states as many times as they wished for  three months.“This will harmonize immigration procedures, help curb cross-border insecurity, enable tourists have a one-stop border check point and generally open the region for more visitors,” she said. 
In a speech read on her behalf by Kenya’s Ambassador to Germany Mr Ken Osinde, Mrs Kandie said by introducing a single Visa, the three countries are signaling their intention to jointly promote the landscapes, wildlife and experiences they are endowed with.“Through this initiative, which we hope will eventually involve all the five partner state of the EAC, we will be highlighting the unique attractions to be found in each country," she added.
 Mrs Kandie  said  the tripartite arrangement will see the countries have joint stands in international travel and trade fairs. “We ask the world to take notice of this key joint initiative that will see the East African region transform into a destination of choice for many travelers whether for pleasure or business” she said
Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and  Antiquities  Ms Agnes Akiror Egunyu said the single Visa represented the most cost effective offer to tourists in terms of time, money and the variety of attractions to see.
She said tourists will be lodging their applications for the single Visa at embassies, consulates or diplomatic representation and once issued, the holder of an EAC tourist Visa will enter the country that issued it and subsequently move within the other two  countries without applying or paying for Visa.
Rwanda’s charge de affairs in Berlin, Mr Felix Sangano said Rwanda was experiencing  a tourism boom fueled mainly by regional visitors and hoped that with the entry of the single visa, more international visitors will throng the country.“We are extremely excited by this move, count as us to fully support it," he said.
 Mr Muriithi Ndegwa, the managing Director of the Kenya Tourism Board, said the  region will now be expected to  benefit from an increase in tourists arrivals. “The region is bound to harvest a much larger share of the  over 50 million visitors who come to Africa annually” he said. 
Earlier in the day, Kenya Wildlife Service acting Director General Mr William Kiprono paid a courtesy call on NABU, the German conservation organisation that started a fund to support survivors of Kenyan rangers killed in the course of active duty. He was accompanied by Mr Edwin Wanyonyi the KWS Deputy Director for Strategy and Change and Mr Paul Udoto, the Corporate Communications Manager. 
The delegation was hosted by the NABU Vice President and CEO Mr Thomas Tennhardt who said: "We cannot protect wildlife without rangers yet most support doesn't focus on their welfare and that of their defendants. We wanted to highlight the plight of rangers and help tell the stories behind their experiences in the field protecting wildlife. 
Mr Kiprono said the initiative was the first of its kind to support frontline staff like rangers and would greatly motivate those who risk their lives protecting wildlife.He thanked NABU for the initiative noting that 10,000 Euros had been disbursed to KWS and would soon be distributed to families to support education of departed rangers. 

Sharon C