Posts tagged as: heritage

Masai Mara Voted the Best Park in Africa at Gala

Photo: Daily Nation

Cheetahs rest on a tourists’ vehicle at Masai Mara Game Reserve.

By Mathias Ringa

Kenya is once again on the global arena after the popular Maasai Mara National Reserve was voted Africa’s leading national park at the World Travel Awards 2017.

The Mara overcame fierce competition from Kruger National Park in South Africa, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Kidepo Valley National Park from Uganda and Etosha National Park from Namibia during the Tuesday evening event in Kigali.

Diani Beach in Kwale County was voted the continent’s leading beach destination for the fourth year in a row after beating competition from beaches in South Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar and Egypt.

“We have recognised the leading lights of African tourism tonight and I wish to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all our winners,” said World Travel Awards founder and president Graham Cooke.

GLOBAL TRAVEL

World Travel Awards serve to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.

The Kenya Tourism Board beat 10 other tourism agents in Africa, including the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Moroccan National Tourism Organisation and South African Tourism to come up top for the sixth year running.

National carrier Kenya Airways bagged two awards after it was voted Africa’s leading airline and Africa’s leading airline- Business Class.

Mombasa port once again scooped the Africa’s leading cruise facility award while the five-star Leopard Beach Resort and Spa in Diani won Africa’s leading family resort award.

Sarova Hotels, Resorts and Game Lodges was crowned Africa’s leading hotel brand while Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club bagged the Africa’s leading hotel award.

LUXURY LODGE

Abercrombie and Kent bagged the Africa’s leading luxury tour operator while Sirikoi Lodge won the Africa’s leading luxury lodge award.

Finch Hattons was voted Africa’s leading tented safari camp while Bonfire Adventures ran away with Africa’s leading travel agency award.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel won the Africa’s leading business travel agency while Destination Kenya bagged Africa’s leading destination management company award.

Budget airline Fly540 was voted Kenya’s leading domestic safari carrier while Heritage Hotels was crowned the country’s leading safari camp brand.

Kenya

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EU Calls for Cultural Tolerance Among Kenyans

Nairobi — The European Union (EU) Deputy Head of Delegation to Kenya Bruno Pozzi has urged all Kenyans to embrace their rich cultural diversity and use it for unity rather than allow it to divide the country.

The Deputy Ambassador was speaking at the EU Heritage Day celebrations held at the Nairobi Museums on Thursday.

He said: “For too long, culture has been treated as a side issue, a sort of niche for experts and artistes. Yet it has a far reaching effect on the economy, tourism, sustainable development, peace and reconciliation. Culture can open new channels and facilitate mutual understanding. In our world today, we need more understanding and channels of communication.”

The event, which was also attended by the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Arts Dr Hassan Wario, Director General of the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Mzalendo Kibunjia, and other representatives from the Ministry of Sports and Culture, NMK and the EU, was marked to celebrate the cultural heritage ties that have existed between Kenya and the EU in the last 41 years.

“We’re doing the same here in Kenya to help reduce the barriers that sometimes arise between people due to cultural differences. Kenya’s own heritage and culture is rich, thanks to the ethnic and social diversity in this country,” added Pozzi.

Dr Wario, while echoing the Ambassador’s sentiments, urged Kenyans to understand and learn to appreciate each other’s cultural heritage.

“My Ministry is and has been committed to understand that we are all diverse people. The Kenya Government recognizes that celebrating our differences, as well as our common interests, helps unite and educate us,” stressed the Cabinet Secretary.

“To understand others perspectives, to broaden our own, and to fully experience and educate ourselves is something that can be achieved by celebrating our diverse cultural heritage,” he added.

The Cabinet Secretary additionally urged all Kenyans to be engaged in safeguarding and protecting national icons which he noted are currently facing threats and risks such as deterioration, neglect, destruction, alteration and climate change.

“Heritage conservation is threatened as the world globalizes and African economies open up to new realms of growth in the international markets while increased building construction, infrastructural expansion as well as terrorism destroy existing heritage assets. I, therefore urge all of us, stakeholders, to accord great attention to heritage conservation. The importance of cultural heritage cannot be overemphasized; its potential contribution to community development is huge throughout the world,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

In order to counter the neglect and deterioration of cultural icons, he revealed that the government wants to develop 100 National Monuments in the country through a proposed national campaign dubbed ‘100 Best Monuments’.

He said that the campaign which will include conducting research on the monuments, building an interpretation center around them and the provision of livelihoods for communities living around the monuments, will help in a concerted preservation process.

The theme for this year’s event, held every September, Heritage and Nature: A landscape of Possibilities is celebrating the intrinsic relationship between people and nature, where heritage values can be embodied in nature so that the environment can play a bigger part in shaping lives and lifestyles.

At the event, an imposing mural art painted by BSQ Art Group and the youthful Nairobi National Museums Art Club (NANAMAK), was unveiled to commemorate the EU-Kenya cultural heritage ties and will be a permanent feature at the museum.

Between 2004 and 2008, the Nairobi Museum underwent a major facelift with assistance from the European Union. The project involved the rehabilitation of the existing Museum, conversion of the redundant spaces to galleries and the design of a new entrance, visitors’ centre and galleries.

The Museum now holds interactive exhibitions and displays, with a central hall surrounded by a section of permanent galleries and a rotation of temporary and visiting collections. There are also state-of-the-art exhibits and facilities structured around the original historic buildings.

In addition to the facelift within the NMK headquarters, the Mombasa and Lamu old Town buildings were refurbished through a grant from the EU for 26 buildings that were in dire need of restoration. Some of those buildings included the first post office, a police station and a hospital which were in a bad structural state.

Wario said that celebrating cultural diversity gives people the opportunities to view and understand cultures different from their own.

“By learning about other cultures, people develop respect and tolerance for other cultures. I am indeed glad to note that one of the objectives of the European Union Heritage Days Celebrations is to increase awareness of the benefits of a shared cultural diversity and the rich mosaic of EU-Kenya cultural ties,” urged the CS.

“I believe this forum will bring people together from different parts of the world and offer them a platform to experience and enjoy the rich and diverse cultures of different Nationalities. Through each other’s diversity we become more aware of our own.”

Kampala City Carnival Cost U.S.$360 000

By Amos Ngwomoya

Kampala — Barely a day to the long awaited city carnival, the Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) technical and political wing are still embroiled in disagreements on how this year’s three day event should be managed.

During Wednesday’s council meeting at city hall, a heated debate ensued, with city elected leaders headed by Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago querying why the city carnival continues to be sponsored by the private partners yet the institution has the capacity of organizing the same event.

“As leaders of this city, we have no stake in the preparations of the city carnival hence private partners have the powers to determine on how it should be managed, and as a result, it has been branded a Jennifer Musisi event yet it’s supposed to be owned up by the institution so that we could use it to reflect on our heritage as a city,” Mr Lukwago said.

Mr Lukwago also wondered why the KCCA technical team had hired Tanzanian artiste, Nasseb Abdul Juma commonly known as Diamond Platinumz at a whopping $30,000 (about Shs 108m) to come and perform at the carnival yet the organisers of the event claim the money collected will be used to renovate city dilapidated schools.

He also wondered why the event, whose theme is hinged on cultural diversity, would have a musician from a foreign country yet Uganda has many upcoming artistes whose talent would be boosted by the same event.

“I find it abnormal that you are paying all this money to a single artiste at the expense of our local artistes. I understand the event is being sponsored by the private sector, but why do we spend all this money to one musician?” he asked.

However, Mr Samuel Serunkuuma, the acting deputy KCCA executive director told council that the institution has no powers to determine which artiste to bring to the carnival because the choice is made by the private partners who sponsor the event.

“All the money that will be used in the city carnival was donated by the private partners and this makes it had for us to dictate on what must be done. However, we look forward to having the next city carnivals to be sponsored by the central government and this will help us streamline the whole exercise,” he said.

Mr Serunkuma revealed that at least Shs1.3b will be spent on the entire event, adding that the money collected especially from musical concerts will be used to do charity work in the city among which is renovating dilapidated schools. However, councillors disagreed with his excuse.

According to the select committee report dated October 4, 2017, which was compiled on the directive of the Lord Mayor to ascertain the manner in which the previous city carnivals were organized, it revealed that last year’s carnival was poorly planned and coordinated.

The report further shows that it’s increasingly becoming difficult to fund the city carnivals using private sponsorship since they tend to own up the event at the expense of the Authority.

Mr Kennedy Okello, the chairperson of the select committee reminded the sponsors of the event that they must know that the city carnival is an activity of the Authority and so it shouldn’t be tagged to particular individuals like Ms Jennifer Musisi.

“The city carnival wouldn’t be a bad idea but we must streamline the whole process because for now, the whole thing isn’t clearly managed and as a result, a lot of extravagance happens,” he said.

According to the statutory internal audit report for the fourth quarter of FY 2016/17, it was realized that KCCA spent much money than it collected.

Although the budgeted revenue was Shs885, 000,000, the report adds, only Shs522,039,250 (59 percent) was collected from both the sponsors and vendors.

However, KCCA spent Shs 716,771,124, making it 37 percent above the actual revenue of Shs 522,039,250.

The report further shows that there was no Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and sponsorship Benefits Agreements between KCCA and some sponsors.

“… lack of legal binding document between contracting parties may give rise to misunderstandings which may be difficult to resolve, sponsors may take advantage of the absence of MoUs to solicit for benefits that they are not entitled to,” reads in part the report.

The Kampala city carnival

The Kampala City Carnival started in 2012 as a platform to rally city dwellers together and celebrate the city. KCCA says the festival is aimed at preserving history and tradition and strives to stimulate the local economy, entertain and involve the community and visitors in a fun-filled atmosphere.

South Africa: Science and Technology On Indigenous Knowledge for Future Research, Development and Innovation

press release

South Africa is home to almost 10% of the world’s known plant species and 15% of all known coastal marine species. The country’s rich biodiversity has given it a scientific competitive edge in the sphere of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).

Already, about 20 000 tons of medicinal plants are exported from South Africa each year. About 24 000 plant species exist in the country of which 4 000 are used to manufacture medicines. Current initiatives for harvesting indigenous knowledge hold major benefits for economic development, medicine and exports.

A number of these initiatives are on display at the 2017 Indigenous Knowledge Systems Expo taking place at the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga.

The Department of Science and Technology hosts the annual event. This year the Department has partnered with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government. The event is themed “Indigenous knowledge, protecting it for future generations”, and is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Tourism as part of Heritage Month.

Addressing yesterday’s colourful opening, the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, urged the older generation to pass indigenous knowledge on to the youth, who would use technology and innovation to advance IKS in the country.

“Elders have been vanguards of indigenous knowledge, but if that knowledge is not transferred to the youth, it is certainly not sustainable and is likely to be lost forever,” said the Minister.

Minister Pandor called on communities to protect and preserve indigenous knowledge. She added that indigenous knowledge offers opportunities to explore avenues for innovation and commercialisation in order to contribute towards addressing the challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

“Communities’ knowledge has been unjustly exploited by opportunists without any form of beneficiation to the owners of the knowledge. Some communities have sold their knowledge without the realisation that by accepting money, they are actually selling off their national treasure.”

Speaking on behalf of the Premier of Mpumalanga, David Mabuza, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Refilwe Mtsweni, said the exploitation and loss of indigenous knowledge in the country deterred innovation, commercialisation and economic stability among the communities who were the most vulnerable.

“The launch of this Indigenous Knowledge Expo affirms our resolve to protect and promote our culture and ensures that our traditions form part of our daily activities,” said MEC Mtsweni.

This year’s event featured an IKS award for high school learners. Sixteen-year-old Njabulo Matsana walked away with the main prize, a bursary to study for a degree in IKS in 2019. The grade 11 pupil wrote the winning essay, which appealed to elders to stop treating indigenous knowledge as “a closed treasure box”.

The expo will end on Thursday, 28 September. The programme features a line-up of topics, including how communities can derive economic opportunities from indigenous knowledge, and the process to turn the Indigenous Knowledge Bill into law.

Issued by: Department of Science and Technology

South Africa

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Dar’s Maiden Geopark Eyes U.S.$10 Million Financial Boost

Photo: Daily News

Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority Conservator Dr Fred Manongi

By Marc Nkwame

Arusha — CHINA will provide Tanzania’s maiden Geopark with 10 million US dollars (over 22bn/-) financial support.

The Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark is earmarked to cover 12,000 square kilometres of rocky hills, lengthy underground caves, lake basins, hominid discovery sites and the active Oldonyo L’engai, Volcano.

The Geopark will be the second in Africa, after the one in Morocco and the first South of the Sahara. Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) Conservator Dr Freddy Manongi says of the Geopark, “While tourists from America and Europe prefer game driving into National Parks to view wildlife; the Chinese and other Asians are different.”

According to Dr Manongi, tourists from China, Korea, Japan and other Asian countries prefer seeing landscapes, mountains, caves, gorges and other geological features.

He believes that the country will use the Geopark to attract visitors from Asia, with China alone offering a huge market of 1.4 billion people for Tanzania’s geology based tourism.

“We are striving to expand the country’s tourism potentials by introducing attractions based on land formations, geology, history and geographical features, all packaged in singly as Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark,” Olduvai Gorge Deputy Conservator Orgoo Mauyai explains. Olduvai is part of the proposed Geopark.

The main economic activities in the envisaged Ngorongoro- Lengai Geopark is pastoralism especially along Maasai and Datoga, agriculture, tourism and small scale trading.

“The Geopark theme is how local residents earn a living from these geological features without interfering with their natural settings,” stated Mr Nickson Nyange, one of the Public Relations Officers at NCAA.

Ngorongoro Lengai is tipped to become a popular tourist destination for tourists visiting the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Natron and Eyasi as well as tourists to other national parks like Lake Manyara and Serengeti.

The first ever sub-Saharan Geopark project was initiated by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under the European Union (EU) funding.

NCAA Cultural Heritage Department acting Manager Engineer Joshua Mwankunda says the EU has already floated 1.8 million Euros (over 4bn/-) as initial funding to the project.

Identification and establishment of geo-sites are a result of territorial analysis by the Promotion of Earth and Human Heritage of Ngorongoro by valorisation of the Oldupai and from reserve Geologique of Haute de France with support and collaboration from local residents.

The analysis produced a database of geo-sites mapped within the Ngorongoro-Lengai and Laetoli ‘Geopark.’ It also involved members from the district councils, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and the National Museum.

Antonym to National Parks, Geoparks are unified geographical areas that address the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way while promoting social and economic well-being of the people within the earmarked locations.

Uganda: Govt Remains Confident Despite Sustained Low Global Oil Prices

By Frederic Musisi

Kampala — The first hint of why ‘big players’ stayed away from Uganda’s competitive licensing round was dropped by Energy minister Irene Muloni last Thursday during the issuance of an exploration licence to Australian oil junior Armour Energy Limited – low oil prices.

The licensing round was opened by ministry of Energy in February 2015 with six oil blocks up for grabs through a competitive process that, however, attracted mainly small and medium exploration companies.

Seventeen firms responded to the ministry’s Request for Qualification from companies but only 16 submitted proposals and four reached negotiation stage.

The already licensed companies, France’s Total E&P and Cnooc, from China stayed away.

The argument at first, for excusing the duo, was that the big players come in when [oil] discoveries had been confirmed and appraisals made on the available reserves; usually by the small and medium players who usually sell off to former.

Trend of events

For example, Hardman Resources and UK-based Energy Africa entered Uganda in 2001, and each was granted a 50 percent stake in Exploration Area 2, to the east of Lake Albert in the Butiaba region.

In 2001, Heritage sold Energy Africa a 50 per cent stake in Exploration Area 3.

In 2004, the Anglo-Irish Tullow Oil PLC bought off Energy Africa taking more than 50 per cent stake in Exploration Areas 2 and 3 with the other half belonging to Heritage.

In 2005 Hardman drilled the Mputa-1 well, and found significant quantities of oil and gas in Exploration Area 2 that Uganda’s prospects became very promising, which was announced at a thanks giving ceremony in 2006.

In 2007, Tullow bought off Hardman giving it a 100 per cent stake in Exploration Area 2 and another 50 per cent stake, through the earlier acquisition of Energy Africa, in Exploration Area 3 (southern Lake Albert and Semliki).

In February 2012, Tullow farmed down (sold) 66.66 per cent of its interest Total and Cnooc) to operate in the Albertine Graben.

Then in January 2016, Tullow announced plans to sell off the remaining stake to the former and exit the Ugandan market in essence.

Unstable prices

All the while, at least between 2006 and 2014, prices of crude oil were to say the least within steady range. At high prices, it is very profitable to discover oil, invest in new fields and expand capacity.

Since late 2014, oil prices have been on a downward trend, never seen before, with Brent crude trading at below $50 per barrel which means a lot of pain for either the investors or governments across the world.

Ms Muloni revealed on Thursday that “the sustained low prices” had affected “process of the licensing round leading to protracted negotiations” in this case with Armour.

The firm ought to have been issued licence and signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with government back in June but the company’s officials asked for breathing space until last week.

In the aftermath of announcing the 16 companies that submitted proposals in July 2015, the ministry dismissed claims that the licensing round was “unattractive” arguing that they received a blend of “applicants who included two companies with market capitalisation of more than $25b, five medium companies with capitalisation of between $5b and $25b and ten small ones with capitalisation of less than $5b.

The season of low crude oil prices, some analysts have argued, is the best time to invest after all price is simply a function of supply and demand, and both sides of the equation evolve dynamically in the marketplace.

In the same regard the low prices impact investment in oil and return on this investment, which is the starting point of a commodity cycle. It becomes expensive to find, extract and transport oil, especially for countries like Uganda which are just getting into the game.

Energy ministry permanent secretary Robert Kasande told Daily Monitor on Friday that: “Prices were good when we started but things changed unexpectedly which scared away some companies.

“So for those which remained committed we took long to agree as both sides had to make concessions here and there.”

Details of the concessions are reflected in the new PSAs, signed last Thursday and another will be signed in three weeks’ time with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum International.

Six blocks; Semiliki and Kanywataba blocks in Ntoroko District, Ngassa block in Hoima district, Taitai and Karuka block in Buliisa District, Mvule block in Yumbe and Moyo districts and Ngaji block in Kanungu and Rukungiri districts, were up for licencing with the view of discovering more oil on top of the current reserves estimated around 6.5 billion barrels.

Mr Kasande said the ministry is not planning to hold another licensing around “any time now” for three blocks, Ngaji, Karuka/Taitai and Mvule, but rather “embark on acquiring more seismic data and conduct impact assessment.”

“The oil prices will rebound sooner or later. It has happened before and it will,” he added.

From the earlier PSAs, the government expects to earn revenues estimated between $1.5b and $ 2b annually (starting between 2028 and 2038 and lasting 10-20 years). Production is expected to start in late 2020.

The amount collected could be much higher or lower depending on oil prices, whether certain fields come on line ( given that we have only explored 40%), whether oil is sold to refineries at a reduced price, whether revenues are retained by Unoc and the government’s capacity to collect.

According to a World Bank report, before oil prices started declining heavily in mid-2014, the price of one barrel of oil had hovered around the $100 mark for several years.

“At this level, oil revenue for the government would have averaged $2.5 billion a year between 2017/18 and 2044/45. Assuming an international price of oil of $50 per barrel, average oil revenue will only amount to about $800 million a year,” states the report.

Gambia: Austrian Journalist Visits Gambia to Promote Tourism

By Njie Baldeh

An Austrian journalist is currently in The Gambia to see the country’s tourism attraction areas to report about it back home as the preparations for the 2017/2018 Gambia tourism season is in high gear.

The journalist, Wolfgang Weitlaner, has been received by the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) as part of their efforts to promote tourism in the country to the world.

In an interview with The Point on Monday at the GTBoard head office, Mr Weitlaner said he had been writing for almost 20 years in Austria and had travelled to over 100 countries where he is needed to do some promotions for tourism.

He said his main focus would be first to write more articles about what people can expect when they come over to The Gambia for holidays.

“I would also like to enhance people to do more than just sitting on the beach to enjoy the sun and the ocean,” he said.

“Holidaymakers should also get to the heritage and the culture of this country and its beautiful people.”

The Austrian journalist said he was very much interested in Banjul as the capital of The Gambia but also the coastline.

“And what I like most here is that the people are interconnected to each other,” he said. “When I go back to my country what I will write most is the biggest sensation of the people and the nature though I do not know more about the River Gambia, I think this is one of the absolute highlights of what I have seen, including the birds and beautiful wildlife.”

Ousman Kebbeh, product manager at the Gambia Tourism Board, said: “We are very fortunate to have the journalist from Austria.”

He said the Austrian has been taken on a conducted tour to visit some parts of The Gambia for him to have adequate and enough information to sell the destination.

Gambia

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Zimbabwe: Nothing Racist About Land Grab – Minister

Marondera — Lands minister, Douglas Mombeshora has defended the government’s controversial and violent land reform process as non-racial saying some white farmers were still farming in Zimbabwe.

Mombeshora made the remarks while addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) annual congress in Marondera.

“We are not racists. Land reform was actually meant to bring in the previously marginalised population and those are the resettled farmers,” Mombeshora said.

“This is why up to today we have (white) farmers who are still operating here who were operating before independence and we want to work with them. Those who want to work with us are welcome to be with us and we welcome to be with them,” he said.

Mombeshora said he recently travelled to Washington D.C in the US to resolve the issue of former white farmers who had taken the government to court claiming the land reform process was racial.

“But the truth is that it was not racial. We could not take away land from the blacks; they did not have the land. We only took from those who had it and those who had the land were white farmers, so it is not a racial issue,” Mombeshora said.

However, at a recent Zanu PF rally in Marondera, President Robert Mugabe, threatened to embark on fresh land grabs targeting all the remaining white farmers.

“We told Tony Blair (former British prime minister) to keep his England and we keep our Zimbabwe because land is our heritage. We have discovered that in Mashonaland East province alone, there are 73 white farmers who are still occupying some farms when our people do not have land,” Mugabe told his party supporters.

“We are going to take those farms and redistribute them to our youths,” he said.

Thousands of white farmers and their employees were left stranded after the government undertook a violent fast-track agrarian reform in 2000. The land grab also left scores of farmers and employees dead.

However, most of the grabbed farms have become derelict because the resettled farmers either do not have adequate resources for farming or have no experience.

Zimbabwe

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Why Conservation of Mountain Gorillas’ Habitat is a Win-Win

opinionBy Fred K. Nkusi

Last Friday, I was so excited to attend for the very first time, the annual gorillas naming ceremony, Kwita Izina that was held in Kinigi Sector, Musanze District.

It was the 13th edition of the ceremony, held on a sunny day. The mood was stunning and ecstatic.

19 baby gorillas were given different names by stakeholders in tourism, conservationists, and globally renowned celebrities among other guests that graced the colorful event.

Most of the names given to baby gorillas reflected a flurry of useful meanings specifically linked to Rwanda’s culture, identity, home-grown initiatives, and other important aspects of our national values.

This event is typically held at Volcanoes National Park, the home to the rare mountain gorillas. The park lies in northwestern part of the country and borders Virunga National Park in the DRC and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.

The Volcanoes National Park is widely known as a haven for the rare and endangered mountain gorilla. Today, it is estimated that 400 of these Mountain gorillas live within Rwandan territory.

These Gorillas have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures at times drop below zero degrees.

An interesting question is: why are mountain gorillas specially conserved?

First, to quote President Kagame; “Mountain gorillas are a part of our natural resources and our heritage. It is everyone’s responsibility to conserve and protect biodiversity.

In protecting gorillas, we have everything to gain”. This generally implies that the rates of loss of animal and plant species, arable land, water quality, tropical forests and cultural heritage are especially serious.

The obligation to conserve critically engendered mountain gorillas as well as other endangered animals springs from the principle of the inter-generational equity. In particular, it relates to equity between species which comes from respect resulting from the intrinsic value of nature regardless of its usefulness for the benefit of humans.

In this regard, equity between species is expressed in the preamble of the World Charter for Nature, which says “mankind is a part of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems, which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients.”

In this perspective, all components of the environment have value, not only because of their usefulness to humans, but also as essential elements of an interdependent system that must be protected.

Peaceful co-existence of humans and gorillas is evident and productive. As a matter of fact, gorillas give birth every year and have significantly increased in numbers. But, if human activity turn out to be a detriment to gorillas habitat the chances of their survival would be extremely minimal.

Second, since the discovery of the mountain gorilla subspecies in 1902, its population has endured years of war, hunting, habitat destruction and disease – threats so severe that it was once thought the species might be extinct by the end of the twentieth century.

As a result, governments, including Rwanda, have put in place regulatory and policy frameworks to conserve the remaining populations of mountain gorillas. As of now, no more poaching and encroachment by humans.

The goal is to ensure the conservation of mountain gorillas and their regional afromontane forest habitat in Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. When mountain gorillas come into contact with humans they can be vulnerable to human diseases; which gorillas experience in more severe forms.

Mountain gorillas can even die from the common cold. However, studies have found that mountain gorillas that are regularly habituated with researchers and tourists have survived better than unvisited gorillas; they benefit from the greater protection available in those areas and from regular monitoring.

Increased survival is also largely due to better veterinary care of sick and injured gorillas. Therefore, conservation of mountain gorillas and their habitat is hugely important, as an integral part of environmental protection.

Of course, this calls for strengthening mechanisms for the respective countries to develop a regional approach to the conservation of a shared habitat. To improve the protection of mountain gorillas and their habitat, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC should empower the relevant authorities to adopt a consistent, collaborative approach to conservation policy and legislation throughout the Albertine Rift and Great Rift Valley.

Third, international gorilla tourism generates revenues. The annual revenue earned directly from gorilla tourism is an important component of funding conservation and management of the parks, as well as local and national economies.

Just last year, as reiterated by CEO-RDB Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda earned more than $400 million from tourism and 5 per cent is invested in community development oriented projects through revenue sharing schemes.

Thus, gorilla tourism accounts for the majority of tangible benefits being derived from these animals. Tourism remains the biggest foreign exchange earner in Rwanda. It contributes about 30 percent of export goods and services in Rwanda.

It doesn’t only benefit the government in terms of revenues, but also benefits local communities surrounding national parks by revenue-sharing. It obviously improves their livelihoods.

And, in turn, they’re willing to cooperate with relevant authorities in preventing or combating any threats to the mountain gorillas habitat, as well as to other protected animals in the national parks.

The writer is an international law expert.

Team Excavates Remains of People of Chinese Descent

A team consisting of archaeologists from the United States, China and Kenya has excavated skeletons of people determined to be with Chinese blood on Manda Island in Lamu County of Kenya, Chap Kusimba, who headed the group, announced at the first “Ancient and Contemporary Relations Between China and East Africa” conference on Friday.

Kusimba, a professor with American University, said it marked the first time such relics were found in East Africa. Zhu Tiequan, an archaeologist with Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said the excavation on the island began in December 2012.

According to the team, the skeletons, altogether three of them, had front teeth that are exclusive for the East Asians and after DNA analysis, they concluded that the skeletons were associated with Chinese blood.

The analysis estimated that one of skeletons might be determined to be at the same period as the time when Chinese navigator Zheng He travelled to East Africa in the 15th century. The other two are determined to be living in a period after the admiral’s expeditionary voyages.

Kusimba said these people might have come to East Africa through land trade routes or the Maritime Silk Road, adding that no belongings were found at their tombs.

Other relics, including the ruins of an ancient town and Chinese beads and coins, were also excavated on the island by the team.

Zhan Changfa, Secretary General of China Foundation For Cultural Heritage Conservation, said the discovery was made possible thanks to the integration of archaeology and anthropology, and the application of natural scientific technology helped decode more information related to the materials excavated.

Zhan added that the excavation of these relics have provided valuable resources for the study on the exchanges between China and East Africa in ancient times.

The 3-day conference, which opened on Friday, has been jointly organized by the National Museum of Kenya, School of Sociology and Anthropology of Sun Yat-sen University and American University. More than 30 experts from countries including China, U.S. and Kenya participated in the event.

Kenya

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