DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT SPOTTED HYENAS

 

  THE TRUTH ABOUT SPOTTED HYENAS

Hyenas certainly wouldn’t get far in a Miss World contest but the more I see them, the more I appreciate them. Depending on which website you read they are closer to cats than dogs, having characteristics common to both, but are actually in a family of their own; hyaenidae. Their reputation as contemptible and repulsive animals goes back thousands of years and even today this negative image is an obstacle to hyena conservation.

Spotted hyena clans are matriarchal, with females dominating groups of 80 or more animals. Clans often splinter into smaller cells, reassembling days or weeks later. To help ease the reintegration process, hyenas of all ages, ranks, and sexes engage in ceremonial one-on-one greetings. Hierarchical in all things, hyena etiquette usually requires the submissive animal to initiate the greeting.

With their patchy fur and odd proportions, maybe they flout our shallow standards for beauty in animals. Our obsession with looks doesn’t take into account how well their bodies and brains are adapted to an ecosystem, Among Africans, hyenas arouse humor and horror the former because the genitals of the females inexplicably mimic those of males, giving rise to the myth that hyenas are hermaphrodites, and the latter because of a link with death. The Maasai back in the days used to leave corpses in the bush for hyenas to dispose of. Indeed, hyenas eat almost anything, which makes them valuable.

After a big meal big meaning not a few steaks, but 30 to 40 pounds (14 to 18 kilograms) of meat, nearly a third of their weight and far more, proportionally, than a lion would eat digestion raises hyena body temperature. On such occasions, few things are more pleasant than a cool, postprandial mud bath. But even in the mud, the hierarchy rules.

Spotted hyenas are the most efficient utilisers of carcasses of any predator, being able to digest flesh, skin and bone completely. As a result they tend to be the most numerous large predator in natural African ecosystems, and the large numbers which congregate at any kill or carcass compete fiercely for food.

The strongest and most aggressive eat their fill, while weaker individuals get less or nothing. Cubs obviously cannot compete at carcasses and so they are suckled until about a year old and sometimes longer (which also may be why fewer hyena cubs die of starvation than those of other co-operative hunters like lions and wolves), but to produce enough milk to feed them the mothers have to be strong enough and aggressive enough to compete successfully with other adults at kills.

This system favors the most aggressive animals, and pregnant spotted hyenas produce and pass on to their foetuses very high quantities of and rogens (male hormones) which raise animal aggression levels, but they also cause even females to develop male genitalia. Competition between spotted hyenas starts literally from birth; they are born precocial with well-developed teeth, and they start fighting in the den within minutes to establish dominance.

          Spotted Hyenas Burdened with Hermaphrodite Myth

This long-established and persistent myth arose because female spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) have what are to all appearances male genitalia. It is nevertheless a myth: males cannot conceive or give birth to young, and females cannot sire them.

This is lucky for the males as it gives the females a reason to tolerate their presence. They aren’t needed for protection or even really for hunting, as females are bigger and more aggressive than males, have equally high testosterone levels, and are dominant over them in any social situation.

Males wishing to mate with females approach with great caution and spend a long time essentially begging to be accepted, during sexual intercourse this organ is flaccid but the males still has to insert his penis into the clitoris.

The females’ “penis” is, in fact, an enlarged, erectile clitoris the same size, shape, and position as the male’s penis through which they urinate, mate and give birth, and in place of a vagina, they have a scrotum-like pouch.

Internally, however, they have standard mammalian female plumbing with ovaries and a uterus, but the urogenital tract instead of exiting under the tail does a U-turn in the pelvis and passes through the tubular clitoris.

This is where the females pay their dues for their status; at birth, the cubs have to pass about 60cm (the umbilical cord is only about 12cm long) through this tube, which is a first-time mother is much too tight for them to fit through and tears in the process. This is exacerbated by the fact that the cubs are born after an unusually long gestation period by predator standards and are correspondingly large and well-developed.

First-time birthing is a painful and dangerous experience for mother and offspring alike and there is a high mortality rate. The torn clitoris doesn’t heal closed afterward so subsequent births are easier and less dangerous, and the torn parts will appear pink which is one way for the observer to tell the gender of mature adults.

The picture above shows the adult female hyena on the right with an erect pseudo penis trough which they urinate, copulate and give birth, its the only female mammal that has no external vaginal opening, so unique in fact, that for centuries people assumed that the spotted hyena had to be a hermaphrodite

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Community Engagement in Environmental conservation, Lessons from Rwanda

Meet Edwin Sabuhoro PHD, a Rwandese national and an unsung wildlife warrior. He received his law degree from the National University of Rwanda and a MSc. Conservation and Tourism from University of Kent at Canterbury, UK where he specialized in ecotourism management. He worked in all Rwanda’s National Parks but mostly as a Tourism Park Warden for Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Beyond that, Edwin worked as a Senior Economic Development Advisor for SNV (a Dutch development organization), Chairman of Tour Operators and Travel Agents Association in Rwanda, President of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, a private sector umbrella organization for Rwanda’s tourism and hospitality sector, Chief Executive Officer for Rwanda Eco-Tours and has also lectured at different Universities in Rwanda in fields of environment, ecotourism, biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism development.

His work to develop ecotourism and to set up a community-based ecotourism project for local communities and ex-poachers at Volcanoes National Park has helped in the reduction of poaching in the park. His work was recognized through; Rwandan Prime Minister’s award of excellence in 2004, Eco-club project of the year 2007, Royal Belum inaugural award in Malaysia in 2007 and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Young Conservationist of the year 2008 Award.

He represents young conservation professionals for East, West and Central Africa at IUCN World Commission for Protected Areas. He also represented Rwanda to the President Obama Young African Leaders Forum in Washington, USA and has continued to participate and speak in different forums that highlight youth empowerment, biodiversity and environment, sustainability and community development, democracy, and leadership.

I got the privilege to hear him talk about his success story during the recent Africa Animal Welfare conference and was inspired beyond any reasonable doubt. How I wish other African countries could emulate their model globally. Environmental conservation has been a challenge due to increased pressure on natural resources brought about by an increase in the human population and uncontrolled harvesting on natural resources.

He explained clearly how the pressure for environmental resources is attributed to the inability of communities to support their household livelihoods. Secondly, in this struggle to protect and conserve these resources, conservationists and scientists alike have forgotten to involve and include local communities as a key decision maker. As a result, local communities have remained as ” the forgotten” in the environmental conservation equation. Conservation will not succeed without putting the local communities back to their central position in the conservation of their resources.

Through his work he has proved, that communitie are the custodians of these resources and they have to be engaged and involved in the planning and management of these resources. To address these challenges, local communities have to be directly engaged and involved in the business of environmental conservation. By doing so, communities would be less detrimental to these resources, find alternatives that would lead to their improved livelihoods, and contribute more to the protection and conservation of the environment.

“We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place or not to bother” Jane Goodall may we take this inspiring success story as a personal challenge, sit down with community groups and take notes from them because they have all the solutions. Let’s bring in Eco-tourism to strike a win-win balance between conservationists and local communities.

 

 

If a Gorilla safari is top on your bucket list like myself get in touch with Rwanda Eco tours for a journey that benefits the communities. http://www.rwandaecotours.com/index.php/

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9 Tips for New Wildlife Bloggers, by Wildlife Bloggers

Are you curious about wildlife blogging, but hesitate to put fingers to keypad? There’s good news! While being a successful blogger takes trial, error and lots of practice, you can get a jump start by learning from others in the business.

Here’s what the judges and entrants of Wildlife Blogger of the Year had to say when we asked for their #1 wildlife blogging tips:

“Don’t start a blog of your own unless you have a lot to say – you’d be better off seeking guest blogs elsewhere if you have a few good ideas. Most blogs fizzle out quite quickly.” Dr Mark Avery, Britain’s premier wildlife blogger and Wildlife Blogger of the Year Judge.

“Vividly describe the animal/s and setting – many people have not seen many wildlife species, and less so in the wild.” Daisy Ouya, science writer and Wildlife Blogger of the Year Judge.

“Be passionate, be authentic. Take responsibility for your words. Don’t regurgitate a field guide. Try to be original in what you write. It doesn’t have to be scientific. Even a serious subject can be positive and empowering.” David Rigden, author of Where Dragons Roam the Earth.

“TYCEYG: Take your camera everywhere you go, but don’t let it distract you! When you are in nature, be present. Pay attention to the way your environment makes you feel.

When you witness wildlife, observe mindfully and snap a photo once you’ve had time to absorb it in real time. When the moment fades away, jot down your emotions and observations. Write down the colors you see, the textures you feel, and any impressions you have from the experience.” Ellie Morgan, author of Heaven in Hells Canyon.

“Tell the truth. However, do it with civility.” Margrit Harris, author of Should I or Shouldn’t I Pet that Cute Lion Cub?

“Write about something that inspired you or had a big impact on you. There is no point writing about something for the sake of it. Write from the heart and let your words flow naturally. That emotion will come across in your writing and people can relive the event with you.

I often speak aloud as I type – as if I am telling a story. I like to keep it colloquial. Don’t be afraid to be yourself – throw humour in there! It often makes a blog more enjoyable, especially if your reader doesn’t necessarily have a wildlife background themselves.” Carolyn Thompson, author of Do you have an Inner Swamp Ogre?

“Get outside and explore. Without being outside you will never have anything to blog about.” Suzanne, author of Manta Rays in the Maldives.

“Don’t copy paste what other people have written. Take your time to understand animal behaviour, you will be surprised there’s so much that has not been documented. Own your stories and don’t do what other people are doing find your own path and master it.” Abraham Njenga, author of Rescuing ‘Bahati’ the elephant calf.

Make the story personal so your audience can relate to it and feel as if they were experiencing it for themselves. Using emotions to describe how you felt, the highs and lows you went through and pictures/photos can all be very helpful in communicating effectively.” Hiral Naik, author of Breakfast with the blue-crowned motmot.

Do you have other tips for blogging about wildlife that you’d like to share? Please let us know on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TerIncogEco.

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INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE VS FORMAL EDUCATION IN REGARDS TO CONSERVATION

Indigenous or local knowledge refers to a complete body of knowledge, know-how and practices maintained and developed by peoples, generally in rural areas, who have extended histories of interaction with the natural environment. These sets of understandings, interpretations and meanings are part of a cultural complex that encompasses language, naming and classification systems, practices for using resources, ritual, spirituality and worldview. It provides the basis for local-level decision-making about many fundamental aspects of day to day life: for example hunting, fishing, gathering, agriculture and husbandry; food production; water; health; and adaptation to environmental or social change. Non-formal knowledge in contrast to formal knowledge is handed over orally, from generation to generation, and is therefore seldom documented.

 It is the dynamic way in which the residents of an area have come to understand themselves in relationship to their environment and how they organize their folk knowledge of flora and fauna, cultural beliefs, and history to enhance their lives The indigenous peoples of Kenya live in areas that are rich in biodiversity. The knowledge of indigenous peoples is often enshrined in rituals, ceremonies and magic, thus underlining how culture, language, religion, psychology and spiritual beliefs cannot often be separated from their understanding of the natural world. This knowledge has passed through generations and assures the survival of the forest environment, its component parts, and the people and cultures dependent upon it and the ecosystem as a whole.

Despite all these positive advantages of indigenous technical knowledge advantages, there are some which are major setbacks to biodiversity conservation, as portrayed through various Kenyan cultures and cultural practices through totems, superstitions, and myths. Some practices promote the killing of wildlife species thus formal knowledge in biodiversity conservation is essential and critical in suitability in that formal education in biodiversity conservation promotes sound cultural practices.

The Kenya government’s efforts to incorporate indigenous knowledge into the formal education curriculum in the post-colonial era has partly been aimed at confronting power, authority, and prestige of western knowledge which subordinates indigenous forms of knowledge in formal schooling. This approach is one of the ways in which the government has tried to empower its citizens to take control of their own development.

 Incorporating indigenous knowledge in formal education signifies the recognition of the power of the role of both the individual and collective agency of change that is found in the potential of using multiple forms of knowledge in solving current problems inflicting Kenyan communities. The pluralistic approach to knowledge systems requires that different forms of knowledge and methods be authenticated and embraced in the school system and that no one system is used as a benchmark for other knowledge forms. Yet the integration takes place in the school environment that already privileges western epistemologies against indigenous epistemologies, a condition that continues to create hegemony in Kenya’s school knowledge construction. This has often created contradictions between what is intended by the curriculum reforms and what is actually implemented in classrooms, resulting in incongruence between students’ indigenous experiential knowledge and formal school knowledge. 

Therefore, attempts to indigenize the curriculum in Kenya have met with little success and have been implemented superficially. The expansion of western formal education created a situation where traditional education in colonized societies was portrayed by colonial powers as ineffective in managing biodiversity, lives and welfare of colonized peoples and communities.

Teachers’ attitudes toward and beliefs about the value and potential contribution of indigenous knowledge to sustainable development define how they integrate this form of knowledge into the formal school curriculum.

 Some of the challenges in the integration of indigenous knowledge in formal education arise from teachers’ lack of faith that such a curriculum can actually contribute significantly to addressing the socio-economic needs of the country. Teachers’ inability to integrate indigenous knowledge in their practice may also be resulting from limited knowledge on what aspects to integrate. Although teachers are entrusted with the responsibility of fostering indigenous knowledge in the learning institutions of Kenya, there is no guidance on what aspects of culture are to be integrated into the curricula.

Although some indigenous knowledge is lost naturally as practices get modified or are left unused for long time periods, the current rate of loss can be attributed to modernization and cultural homogenization. The current educational systems that believe macro-level problems can only be addressed through the global knowledge pool and the slow growth of institution supporting grassroots innovations are also obstacles therefore to avoid more cultural erosion its essential for indigenous knowledge to be integrated into formal education curricula.

Kenya has sound existing research and academic institutions that could potentially play a vital role in promoting, recognizing, developing and protecting indigenous knowledge as well as incorporating it successively with formal education systems within its curriculum. This would water down to the grassroots level, ultimately leading to economic benefits.

Indigenous peoples and local communities have much to contribute to global discussions concerning sustainability and have a right to participate in matters that may affect them. As proponents and practitioners of both biological and cultural diversity and biocultural diversity, indigenous peoples and local communities have unique insights into possible solutions that can promote biodiversity conservation both locally and globally.

DRIVING IN THE WILDERNESS THE GLEN EDMUND WAY

The numerous driving schools in Kenya have become so commercialized that by the time you get your license and you’re behind the steering wheel the reality of the situation hits you in the face how half-baked you came out from them, I remember how congested the table classes were and don’t get me started on the practical part it was just a formality if you don’t chip in something to the instructor he will brush you very fast and actually most of the time even step in the clutch for you and even engage the gear giving you lame excuses how sloppy you are, calling in the next person as you go to the back of the overcrowded old lorry.

By the time we got to the day for the final road test practical exam at kasarani stadium half the guys were still asking how you get the lorry started, as usually we were quite crowded and had to be brushed off haste-fully only three guys apparently failed the rest of us were certified drivers that was back in 2008 but I believed much hasn’t changed.

As a tour operator driver guide, I get to spend most of my time out in the bush where I have had so many bad experiences which are inevitable to every driver regardless of where you’re driving. We have all been subjected to driving situations that were not catered for in the standard driving test. These situations dictate the future experience and the vulnerability of us the drivers, their passengers and the safety of fellow road users.

Drivers are exposed to varying degrees of challenging situations and many of us are expected to drive vehicles for which we received very little or no training at all. When i heard of how easy it is to enroll at Glen Edmunds performance driving school the only advanced driving company in the African continent whose courses are internationally accredited  I knew I had enrolled especially after reading on their website that they give a 90-Day No Questions Asked, Money Back Guarantee I figured these guys must take their work very seriously, and the kind of training that the instructors get cant be compared to any other since this is the only one of its kind in Africa. There are lots of courses to choose from including; Security, Defensive Driving, HGV, 4WD Training, Motor vehicle training, Oil & Gas, Blue light training, Self Defence while Mobile just to mention thus there’s something for everyone, I definitely went for the 4WD off Road Defensive Course.

I enrolled and the first order of business was to complete 4WD E-Learning course learning the theory of safe and correct use of a 4WD vehicle in all types of off-road environments which, being a good driver means doing the basics well all the time and this theory part is really essential, you complete at your own pace one I was done with the final exam it automatically generated the completion certificate I knew eligible for the practical session check it out http://elearning.glenedmunds.com

You can either go for the field practical sessions with their vehicles or come with your own, for me I preferred what am used to and went with a land cruiser arrived at their offices and the kind of reception I got made me think of becoming a politician in the next life, after a while everything was in check my martial instructor Amos got in and off we headed out to the 4WD training center where I went through vigorous training components which gave me a clear understanding of the correct and safe use of the four-wheel-drive vehicle in all types of Off Road environments which included; Ascent and Descents with 3 gradients of different difficulty, water obstacles, cross Axel section, Ridges and Ditches, Long track cotton soil and rocky slopes, winch points, instant braking on high speed (my second favorite) but what crowned my experience was the steep Ascent and descents.

 

You definitely need to find a program that accurately measures your skill levels so that during your re-certification training the instructor is able to quantify your progress and asses which areas need to be improved upon, this courses are quite necessary every 18-24 months. visit their website www.GlenEdmunds.com for more information or call 0725635687

Learn from the experts

 

If there’s one thing that  I am really looking forward to is being behind the wheel in the next Rhino Charge, I have watched and admired the skills that the drivers portray. That’s definitely top on my bucket list

FRIENDS OF NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK (FONNAP-KEEPING VIGILANCE IN THE PARK)

Park rules are intended to ensure that visitors enjoy a superior safari experience without endangering themselves or the wildlife. Please respect the rules

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Martin Luther King JR. The Nairobi National Park is the only park in the world adjacent to a capital city, this has its ups and downs which we are all familiar to including the standard Gauge Railway that in my opinion had so many alternative routes other than through the park, But there’s one behavior of Nairobians that I really has to be addressed alighting from the vehicles while on a game drive and sitting on top of the vehicle.

The minute you pay to enter the park you’re given a receipt and attached to it is a copy of the park rules and regulations which some people tend to overlook and only oblige when the Kenya Wildlife Service Patrols are around forgetting that they are in the wild and nothing is predictable.

I have been a member of Friends of Nairobi National Park (FONNAP)  for years and the commitment of the members who are mostly citizens who are passionate about conservation and protecting the park phenomenal, I joined this What’s App group of  FONNAP members who frequent the park and we share pictures that we take in the park and acts as an open forum to discuss any issues of concern but lately the increased numbers of visitors to the park misbehaving has become so common especially during the weekends and public holidays.

We take pictures of such sightings and report to the officers at the gate but really, is it even worth it to risk your riding on top of your vehicle while in the park, walking out to take a selfie in the wild or even sit on the vehicle’s window with you beer cans just to look cool………

 Such reckless acts not only compromise the park rules but also environmental ethics.  In this scenario, the visitors may be in awe at the sighting of a Lion neglecting their behind to a camouflaged hungry Leopard. When things go south for them they start blaming the authorities asking for compensation and possibly they may go as far as asking the relevant authorities to kill the leopard that mauled their asses. The park is there solely for the reason of protecting and conserving the Leopard and generally the wildlife but after the incident people view the animal as a villain that should be elated. Thus the question every visitor to the park should ask himself before  is it worth the risk bear in mind snakes are all over you might get out for a quick snap but end up stepping on one

We seem to have watched so many survivor movies that we all want to star in one but bear in mind this is the real world once you’re into the wilderness nothing is certain, just because there’s no lion in sight doesn’t mean its safe.

Driving off-road in the park is highly prohibited, use of drones is very much illegal but still, some people think they can get away with it. Be warned its not only the KWS patrols that you should be looking out for it you fall in the category of these delinquents who think that the park is their playground FONNAP members are always in the park at any given time the gates are open so no more monkey business.

Become a friend of the park, if you see park rules being broken, Please don’t just drive by taking a minute to take to them and remind them if they don’t heed feel free to take take a photograph of the incident and share with the KWS officers at the gate. because we have a unique status among all things on the planet and morality only applies to us.

                                   The wildlife code

  • Respect the privacy of the wildlife, this is their habitat.
  • Beware of the animals, they are wild and can be unpredictable.
  • Don’t crowd the animals or make sudden noises or movements.
  • Don’t feed the animals, it upsets their diet and leads to human dependence.
  • Keep quiet, noise disturbs the wildlife and may antagonize your fellow visitors.
  • Stay in your vehicle at all times, except at designated picnic or walking areas.
  • Keep below the maximum speed limit (40 kph/25 mph).
  • Never drive off-road, this severely damages the habitat.
  • When viewing wildlife keep to a minimum distance of 20 meters and pull to the side of the road so as to allow others to pass.
  • Leave no litter and never leave fires unattended or discard burning objects.
  • Respect the cultural heritage of Kenya, never take pictures of the local people or their habitat without asking their permission, respect the cultural traditions of Kenya and always dress with decorum.
  • Stay over or leave before dusk, visitors must vacate the Park between 6.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. unless they are camping overnight. Night game driving is not allowed.

 

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TRAVELIFE ENHANCING SUSTAINABILITY IN TOURISM AND TRAVEL

Twiga Tours Becomes the First Tour Operator in East Africa to attain Tourism Sustainability Certification Status

Nairobi, November 16, 2018. The Travelife Certified award was received today by Twiga Car Hire & Tours. The award recognizes the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of Twiga Tours regarding sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility.

 Twiga Car Hire & Tours complies with more than 200 criteria, related to an operator’s office management, product range, international business partners and customer information. The Travelife standard is covering the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is Accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as in compliance with the GSTC criteria and certification procedures.  

 

Twiga Car Hire & Tours is the first company in Kenya to have obtained the Travelife Certified award.

 Mr Naut Kusters, manager of Travelife for tour operators, “I am delighted to see that sustainability in the tour operators sector is obtaining momentum. The award of the front-runner Twiga Car Hire & Tours will inspire other companies in Kenya to follow the same path”.

 Travelife is the leading international sustainability certification for the travel sector. More than 35 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members including, KATO (Kenyan Association of Tour operators), ABTA, The British Travel Association and PATA, the Pacific Asian Travel Association.

 In Kenya, Travelife works in close partnership with Ecotourism Kenya, who is managing the customized scheme. Jointly, Travelife, Ecotourism Kenya and KATO are presently implementing an EU funded initiative (Green Tour Kenya) to work towards a sustainable travel sector in Kenya.  The project aims to support more than 100 KATO members in the adaptation of common sustainability standards.

 Mr. Fred Kaigua, KATO CEO, “Twiga Car Hire & Tours is a Category “A” member of KATO and we are happy to note the effort they have made towards achieving this award.  We trust that this recognition will inspire other companies to follow suit.

Mrs. Grace Nderitu, Ecotourism Kenya CEO, “The award of sustainable tourism certification to Twiga Tours marks a major milestone for the tourism industry in Kenya.  The tour operators certification complements the eco-rating certification standard for accommodation facilities and jointly work to give an assurance that Kenya’s tourism is sustainable”.

About Travelife (www.travelife.org)

Travelife is a certification system, dedicated to achieving sustainable practices within the tourism industry.  It provides companies with realistic sustainability goals, tools, and solutions to implement positive change within their businesses and supply chains. Travelife is managed by ABTA – The Travel Association in the UK – and by ECEAT Projects – a not-for-profit organization based in The Netherlands.

Travelife for Tour operators and Travel agents:  the scheme provides online training and practical tools for sustainability management and certification. The training and online tools are suitable for tour operators and travel agencies of any size and cover all management aspects of the travel company business including office operations, the supply chain, destinations and consumers. Upon submitting a report in compliance with the Travelife standard (based on an independent onsite audit), the company can obtain the “Travelife Certified” status.

The Travelife standard for Tour operators and Travel agencies is based upon the full Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including labor conditions, human rights, environment, biodiversity and fair business practices. The management requirements are compatible with EMAS and ISO 14001. The system is supported by more than 35 national travel associations to further its implementation among members 

About Ecotourism Kenya  

Ecotourism Kenya is a business membership association directly serving more than 350 members, and reaching out to hundreds more in Kenya. Since its inception in 1996 Ecotourism Kenya has been involved in a wide range of activities to promote and broaden the industry understanding of sustainable tourism, and attract membership beyond the mainstream tourism industry. Ecotourism Kenya has had many firsts: it was the first Ecotourism Society in Africa; the first to develop a voluntary eco-certification scheme for hotels/lodges in Africa, the first to publish a Green Directory of producers of green products and services, the first to develop a customized sustainability standard for Tour Operators in E. Africa and the first to develop Green Destination Guidelines in Africa. For further read, visit our website http://ecotourismkenya.org/

 

 

 

RHINO HORNS BACK ON THE MENU IN CHINA- BAN HAS BEEN LIFTED

China has lifted a quarter-century ban in the trade in Rhino horn apparently for scientific and “medicinal” use of the rhinoceros horn. China state council must be celebrating at the moment while I wonder  if the world declares that their treasured Panda also has medicinal value same as the tigers parts they have allowed to be traded on probably they would feel the pain that conservationists in Africa (other than the South Africans who farm white rhinos to crop off their horns) are feeling.

The rhino horn is primarily made up of keratin, the same substance that makes up our hair and fingernails but has been associated with westerners myths, that white rhino is used mainly by the Chinese as an aphrodisiac and to treat flu and convulsions.

Rhino horn costs around $65,000 per KG making it more valuable than gold and many times more valuable than ivory

In 2016 China banned the sale of Ivory thus reducing the ivory trade only to lift the ban of 1993 in Rhino horn that is said to allow tiger and rhino parts to be used for medicinal and scientific research and cultural exchanges underscoring that the trade will be “Strictly controlled” and the products must come from animals in captivity which will definitely further threaten the survival of especially black rhinos which are critically endangered especially here in Kenya, and just to drive the point home there’s no physical difference to tell apart between a rhino horn bred in the wild and that from captivity.

Opening the trade and creating the demand for the ready market will definitely place pressure on supply, risking sourcing moving beyond farmed white rhinos in South Africa to the remaining endangered population especially on black rhinos here in Kenya.

It’s about time that we local Africans the custodians of our unique wildlife heritage take a genuine stand in conserving our rhninos for posperity because we are the same culprits who will shoot down these magnificent iconic species to earn a few coin, its also about time that consumers of endangered species products understand that the decisions they make buying of this wildlife products to impress someone affects the lives of ordinary people thousands of miles away in countries they may never visit.

Only when the buying stops, the killing can too. “To love all animals is to love all life,to love all life is to be rooted in your spirituality” April Peerless