Sunday, January 19, 2014



Chinese arrested with 3kg ivory at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Kenya) By CYRUS OMBATI, Standard Digital January 19th 2014 NAIROBI, KENYA:

A Chinese national was Saturday arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after being found with 3.4 kilograms of ivory. The 40-year-old man was found with the lower ivory while from Napula, Mozambique to Guangzhou, China. His plane had touched down at JKIA and was to connect when he was seized. Police said the ivory was in his luggage and had been packaged in disguise as cups. Airport CID boss Joseph Ngisa said the arrest was made on Saturday evening and that the man will appear in court today to face charges of being in possession of the ivory. “

We are seeing an increase of these suspects originating Mozambique with the ivory but we are keen to stop the practice,” said Ngisa. His arrest came two days after another Chinese national was arrested with ivory, leopards' skin and multiple passports. He is believed to be behind a number of cases of smuggling of people and ivory in the country, police said. The 41-year-old suspect was arrested at an apartment Thursday with goods valued at millions of shillings in the posh Riverside estate, Nairobi. This comes even as Kenya and Chinese government are collaborating to fight poaching and illegal trade of wildlife.

The international trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s. Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

East African nations have recently recorded an increase in poaching incidents. The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicines. Africa is home to an estimated 472,000 elephants, whose survival is threatened by poaching and the illegal trade in game trophies, as well as a rising human population that is causing habitat loss. To demonstrate the seriousness and commitment to end the menace, China recently crushed six tones of the ivory.

Saturday, January 18, 2014



Phyllis Lee, The ConversationJanuary 17, 2014

China is the most recent nation to destroy its ivory stockpile. It is the world’s largest market for illegal ivory, and the move is welcome news for threatened elephant populations. Ivory represents a tusk hacked, at the point of death, from the elephant, a cognitively and socially complex creature.

One of the problems with ivory is that, like whale oil, it comes from a creature that reproduces very slowly. Female elephants mature at 15 and can calve only every five years. On average they produce just eight calves in their lives. Any population model will tell you that “sustainable harvesting” to meet even modest consumer demand is just not possible with replenishment this slow. It was not possible for whales, nor is it possible for most deep sea fisheries.

In 1986, one economic model of ivory production found that the highest yields could be gained from populations protected from direct exploitation. This was based on obtaining ivory from animals that survived to a very old age and died naturally – they had the largest tusks. Even then, nothing like a global market could be sustained with this rate of growth, death and demand.

After earlier attempts at a licenced trade failed, there has been tinkering with the concept of a regulated ivory trade for the past 25 years under a global trade ban. Lately these have been supplemented with highly controversial and potentially unethical one-off sales to Japan and China.

Over the same period, average tusk size in seizures has gone from 8.5kg to about 4kg. This fall demonstrates that tusks are taken from calves and juveniles, and that over hunting large tusked elephants has removed them from the gene pool.

The unintended consequences of killing elephants for their tusks – as is currently happening throughout West, Central and parts of East Africa – will not be known for several more generations, if indeed they survive that long.

In this context, continuing to regard ivory as a legitimate commodity for trade, wealth generation, or for sustaining local indigenous industries can only lead to the species' extinction. Despite arguments made for sustainable trade, soaring demand would outstrip supply. FULL STORY HERE

Friday, January 17, 2014


Huge congratulations to Lupita, and to her family Kwame and Sonia, Isis and Madison, Tavia and Omondi.

I just saw the award speech given by Lupita Nyong’o for her Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, it put tears in my eyes. She dedicated her award to her uncle Aggrey, who is the father of my good friend Kwame Nyong’o.

Kwame is an amazing animator, author, and great friend. I am so moved by all of this, it’s just wonderful to hear about and experience the joy of friends and family members. I was not able to meet Kwame’s Dad as he died just before we met, but I have met his siblings, and they are all very special folks – Aggrey Nyong’o was obviously an inspiring man.

Interestingly, Kwame spent much of his youth in Ann Arbor Michigan - which is where I met him after I had already moved to Kenya – he moved permanently to Kenya shortly after I did.

It’s easy to get into thinking how HUGE the world is, and how far away one is from people you care about, or places that mean something to us – but events like this somehow remind me of just how connected we actually ARE, and how powerful and wide can be the reach of true emotion.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


The Elephant doesn't waste energy, he just gets the job done..toss the car, or the person, or the animal… and huff off.. Here are some tips for being a good visitor in their neighborhood..

- Always respect their flight distance and allow a flight route (so they don't feel cornered). Do not cut off their way in which they are walking.

- Give them right of way and don't approach closer than 30-40 metres and don't allow them to get close to you either - retreat if they walk towards you.

- Learn to recognise their threat signs. (e.g. ears spread; head shaking, nodding, jerking; trunk swishing; slapping ears against their body; throwing grass, stones or twigs)

- At the first threat sign move back and give them space. - Always keep an eye on all elephants, one may come up from behind you. - Try and keep a flight route open for your vehicle.

- Mothers with calves will get very upset if you are between them, so always watch out for small calves and allow them and the mother to get together.

- Revving the engine or driving past full speed is NOT advised, it aggravates them and could induce a charge, rather back off slowly.

- Only if the elephant is moving towards you fast, head down and ears spread in a charge or mock charge, drive away fast.

- Most charges are "mock" (threat) charges,  the elephant is pretending to charge but is actually testing you out to see if you're aggressive or a non-threat.

-  Watch the elephant's ears. If an elephant's ears are relaxed, he is probably making a mock charge. Ears that are fanned out are indicative of a mock charge.

- If the elephant's ears are pinned back flat, it is likely that the charge is real. This will often be accompanied by a trunk that is curled inward.

 - Listen for warnings. You're likely to hear trumpeting of a warning from the elephant.

 - Look for displacement activities. There are some other indicators of an elephant working out whether to charge or retreat. These include a twitching trunk and swinging one leg to and fro. The biologist responsible for discovering this, Dr  George Schallar, realized that the more pronounced these "displacement activities", the more likely the elephant was making a threatening show out of fear and had no intention to really charge.

-  Stay downwind of the elephant at all times. This way, the elephant will find it difficult to smell you and seek you out (elephants have a keen sense of smell). If you can hide downwind, you might be able to avoid any further encounter. If you do run, stay downwind to make following you more difficult.

- Be noisy. It might be possible to shoo off the elephant by making loud noise if there is some distance between you and the charging elephant. Some think that this a very good option if you're inside a vehicle.  On the other hand, if you're on foot trying to dodge the elephant when it's very close to you, others think that staying quiet is probably a much better option.

- You can also shake trees, rattle bags, make noise using whatever objects are to hand. A loudly and repetitively shouted "No" is good if you can't think of anything else.

- Do not show your back to the elephant. Do not turn or run! Running encourages chasing.

- If you must run, try to do it in a way that deceives the elephant. A charging elephant can run much faster than you but if you zig-zag, you might be able to confuse it. Elephants find it difficult to change directions due to their bulky size. And, of course, run as fast as you can––your life depends on it.

- If you do run, the intent should be to place as much distance between yourself and the elephant. Elephants that are scared, upset or angered can run up to 35-40kph

- Climb. Elephants can't climb, obviously. And provided you find a sturdy enough tree of good height, it might be enough to put space between you and the marauding elephant.

- Keep in mind that the elephant might rip the tree down, so be on the lookout for signs that it might try this next.

- Be warned! It might not be wise to jump into water. Apart from the fact that the water might harbor other non-friendly wildlife, elephants are surprisingly good swimmers and it may decide to simply follow you.

- Hop into a ditch. In some cases, people have evaded a charging elephant by dropping into a large ditch and staying low. Be warned that if the ditch isn't wide or deep enough, the elephant may find its way around and start going for you with its trunk.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



 Between three-quarters to 95 percent of tropical forest trees depend on animals to disburse their seeds, which the trees make appealing by wrapping in a tasty little packet called fruit. In the tropical forests of the Congo, the elephant is the largest consumer and distributor of tree seeds, contributing to the remarkable species diversity found there.

This phenomenon is explored in depth in the first episode of the latest installment of the The BBC Earth series "Power of Nature," which returned Tuesday for 10 new installments of four-minute episodes, available online.

The first episode, ELEPHANTS: Mega-gardeners of the Forest, takes viewers to the Congo, one of the largest and richest tropical forests in the world. The film explores how the forest elephants help sustain the Congo rainforest and contribute to its vast diversity of trees. One of the most amazing things about tropical rainforests is the diversity of trees there, said Dr. M Sanjayan, lead scientist with The Nature Conservancy.

"You almost never see two of the same species of tree next to each other. And that's what shocks you," he said. The forest elephant has the ability to eat "virtually every fruit nut out there," Sanjayan said. "And because they have such poor digestion, most of those seeds pass through their gut untouched. In fact, it's better than that.

When it comes out, its has its own packet of fertilizer ready to grow on." Ian Redmond, a wildlife biologist with the Born Free Foundation, said elephants are the the biggest seed dispersal agents in the forest, which he noted was vital for the health of the entire ecosystem. Without elephants, the diversity of trees in tropical forests "absolutely goes down" Sanjayan said. "

 Redmond said. "If we lose the elephants, the forest will change for the worse."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


 Chinese border guards intercept £80,000 of ivory 

Border guards in the Chinese province of Fangchenggang become suspicious of a pick up truck after they spotted the driver acting nervously. After taking a closer look at the vehicle they found a box strapped under the van filled with ivory tusks worth over £80,000. The guards stumbled on the haul on 8th February while they were operating at a routine check-point.

35 Tusks strapped under a pick up truck

The Fangchenggang province borders with Vietnam in the south of China. When the border guards stopped the vehicle for the check the driver became agitated and failed to provide sufficient answers being asked by the guards.

The guards decided a closer look at the vehicle was necessary and after crawling under the pick-up they discovered the box which was filled with 35 tusks. The total weight of the ivory was 275kg and the largest of the tusks measured 1.5m long. The discovery came just 2 days after China destroyed 6.1 tonnes of ivory in a demonstration of its commitment to fighting the illegal trade in ivory.

Read More Here



One of the wonderful things that happened to us at Amara in 2013 came from the InFocus Company. Our projector is CORE to everything that we do. Our last InFocus brand projector lasted for 10 years in the harshest, hottest, dustiest conditions. The recent one started to project very bad images...!

We thought it was dust but of course it doesn’t come completely apart for cleaning though we spent days working on doing that. I was looking on their site and got a live chat going. The man there (Vinzenz) was amazing. He had me send him photos of the projected image, told me it was an internal chip that needed to be replaced. Needless to say, here in Nairobi that would have been impossible.

He said let me see what I can do. I had been trying to work out how we would be able to get another machine, and get it bought in the USA or UK and out to us in Africa... But VOILA, he arranged to have InFocus send us a brand new projector via UPS, RIGHT TO OUR OFFICE in Nairobi, with a free return label for the shipping of the old one to Germany!! It was out of warranty, they didn’t have to do this – but they wanted to help and they certainly did so! This got us right back out to work. (FILM SHOW PHOTO) and/or (PROJECTOR) InFocus is a company that truly goes the extra mile to help customers, and I am proud to say that we will ALWAYS buy their products! LB

You Help Is Needed ...

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