.
 

INTERNATIONAL ACTION against the
Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo Project

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Intl. Alliance against the Kenya / Thailand wildlife deal

15.000 signatures were already handed over to the Kenya President as well as to the Thai Government - please continue to support the struggle !

 

Updates  08.11.2005 - 13.12.2005

 

09.11.2005  Come clean on the Thai wildlife deal

10.11.2005  Kenya to export wild animals to Thailand after all

11.11.2005  Fury at Kenya wild game shipment

14.11.2005  The Coalition Against The Exportation of Wildlife to Thailand

16.11.2005  Council condemns State plan to export wildlife

17.11.2005  CHIANG MAI SAFARI: Rare animals on the menu at zoo

19.11.2005  Game meat at Thai party raises queries

22.11.2005  Wildlife taken off the menu at Night Safari

27.11.2005  Now wildlife export deal gets backing

29.11.2005  Press Statement from Kitengela Community

30.11.2005  Team to ratify gift of animals, says envoy

03.12.2005  Senate panel asking critical questions about Night Safari

08.12.2005  THAKSIN likes to TRANSFER: Wildlife from Kenya and ...

09.12.2005  THAILAND CORRUPTION: Anand sounds warning

11.12.2005  Revealed: Endangered wildlife in Thai deal

 

Update: 11.12.2005

Revealed: Endangered wildlife in Thai deal

Standard, Nairobi

Sunday December 11, 2005, published: issue of 12.11.2005

By Alex Kiprotich

The controversial export of local wildlife to Thailand took a new twist after investigations revealed that some of the animals are endangered species.

The mystery over the deal further deepened after it emerged that Thailand had requested for 309 assorted wild game, which includes animals classified as endangered.

The Government had announced in November that it was giving away 175 animals.

A confidential memo signed by top Government officials of both countries details a five-day tour by a six-man Government delegation to Thailand animal holding facilities.

The delegation was led by a senior deputy secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, John Mukuriah, KWS chief scientist, Dr Richard Bagine, and acting tourism director, Wanjiru Munene.

Mukuriah and Dr Bagine signed the report and recommended to the Government that Chiang Mai Night Safari park was in a position to receive the animals.

Dr Plodprasop Suraswadi, the director of the private zoo, signed the report on behalf of the Government of Thailand. The endangered species, which were not listed in the official Government report but are in the confidential document requested by Thailand, include three leopards, three cheetahs, 20 lions, two white rhinos, six buffaloes and seven hippos.

Other species include waterbucks, dik diks, elands, black-breasted Koris, impalas, wildebeests, gerenuk grants and Thompson’s gazelles.

The delegation visited seven parks in Thailand and agreed to dispose of the animals.

SOURCE

 

Kalembe should stay off the “Thai animal deal”

PRESS RELEASE: Sunday, December 11, 2005

The newly appointed Assistant Minister for Wildlife Hon. Richard Kalembe Ndile is well known for flouting the golden rule of silence. By engaging his questionable sanity in commenting on matters he knows so little about, he leaves no doubt that he has little or no academic breeding. With all due respect, the appointment of such a person into the sensitive docket of wildlife, is an insult to the communities that have fought so hard and engaged in collective conservation efforts
 
His spiteful remarks on the day of his appointment is proof that his work ethics have been groomed by the streets and the manner of disseminating his duties is uncouth, uncivil, and inconclusive.
 
Kalembe’s elevation to such a sensitive docket should have been a point of information to his intelligent self that his street days of illiterate philosophies are over. He should have probably been oriented into a new kind of responsible thinking to prepare him for the duty of serving Kenyans.
 
Hon. Kalembe should at least be wise enough to steer clear the scandalous wild life sale that is being masqueraded as a “gift’ or he will find his hands mired in the pools of mud he knows so little about.
 
In addition, he should have been by now aware that his statements are reflective of government policy and any more garbled utterances will be construed as the final government word.
 
New Developments in the “Animal for Aid Scandal”
 
Hon Kalembe Ndile blatant ignorance of issues preceding and developing through the Thai Animal Export deal makes him oblivious of the fact that his boss, the Minister of tourism Hon. Morris Dzorro, had no mandate to sign the MOU with the government of Thailand, since in his capacity he did not consult extensively with parliament, the peoples representatives and community based conservation groups, the community’s pointers of conservation effort.
 
In our first communiqué from the Ministry of Tourism, the government promised to consult widely before committing the country to this deals. It later emerged in the public forums that even the pre-analysis in Thailand conducted by the delegation led by the Permanent Secretary and the KWS representatives were half baked and Scandalous. It is in the public Domain that Thai’s Zoos are ranked lowest in the treatment of Animals. These Zoos have often been mentioned in scandals of international magnitude, to the extent of CITES almost Expelling Thai from its membership.
 
Since the government sought not to consult parliament or the public, on whose behalf did the Hon. Minister enter an agreement with Thailand ? Opinions poll conducted by a credible firm recently provided 69% against the Thai Deals.
The government has refused to quantify the economic gains we stand to accrue through this deal. It is noted that President Kibaki is as keen to pound his authority on the Kenyan community as his Thai counterpart Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has evicted the Akha tribe from their own heritage to build his Zoo.
 
Kenyans will not tolerate such dictatorial tendency and the National CBO Council will marshal all like minded forces to coordinate both legal redress and a mass protest of communities.
 
Let the Government know especially through Hon. Kalembe Ndile, that communities will not sleep and all Consortium members will keep watch until the government recede its decision to sell off our Precious heritage.
 
Cabinet appointments a National ignominy

After subjecting Kenyans to two weeks of waiting with bated breath, Kibaki’s Reconstituted Cabinet is a big disappointment. The expectation that President Kibaki will reconstitute a cabinet adorned with integrity and professionalism must have been far fetched. He never, even by a stride, departed from the practice of his predecessors of using cabinet appointments as rewards to sycophants and cronies towing the executive line.
 
The promise that the development agenda will be prioritized over any other consideration; is a mirage that has been shifting since the initial promise of a lean professional cabinet. The unveiling of the new cabinet and the fact that it is bedeviled by a handful of people of questionable integrity: marred by scandalous individuals, dragged by old retirees and subjected to people who have strangled the voice of reason by their sheer arrogance; is proof that Kibaki, by a stroke of the pen, has returned us to the dark days of political patronage.
 
Hence the dictates of common sense informs us to expect no record breaking development, but an uneasy quite rule of a cabinet overshadowed by the fear of expressing contrary opinion for dread of a backlash.
 
The bulk of the new Kibaki team is a congregate of sycophants, conformists, semi-literate and incompetent distorted loyalists. Their only qualification is their false allegiance to the unpopular Wako Draft.
Is this the team that is expected to deliver?
 
Signed by
TOM AOSA
NATIONAL CHAIRMAN

 
for: NATIONAL CBO COUNCIL MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS

The Chairman National Community Based Organisations (CBO) Tom Aosa (left) addresses journalists at their Nairobi offices yesterday. Seated right is a council member Waiganjo.
Picture by Cornelius Madiga

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Communities opposition to Thai wildlife deal continues

KENYA TIMES
(12.11.2005)
By Kariuki Ndung'u

COMMUNITY Based Organisations (CBO) yesterday revived the controversial Thailand wildlife deal and warned that they would be taking the government to court over the matter if it fails to rescind the deal.

The Nairobi CBO chairman, Tom Aosa said if the government fails to address the controversial wildlife export to Thailand in two days it will seek legal redress on the issue.

Aosa also disclosed that the government has yet to respond to a letter CBOs wrote six months ago requesting for more light to be shed on the wildlife deal.

He said that in absence of this, the CBOs is left with the option of seeking legal redress to ensure that Kenya’s wildlife are not subjected to inhuman treatment in Thailand.

Aosa said the CBOs have many options to force the government rescind its decision of sending animals to Thailand, a country, he said was known for its poor treatment of wildlife.

On the Cabinet, Aosa said the president failed to meet Kenyans’ expectations in his recent Cabinet appointment as most of the appointed leaders lacked integrity and professionalism.

He said that Kibaki should not have used the opportunity to reward sycophants. “After subjecting Kenyans to two weeks of waiting with bated breath, Kibaki’s reconstituted Cabinet is a big let down to Kenyans,” he said.

The chairman said Kibaki continued to disappoint Kenyans time and again despite the support the Kibaki administration has been accorded by the Kenyans.

 

Update: 09.12.2005

THAILAND CORRUPTION

THAI CORRUPTION IS ALSO INVOLVED IN THE PLANNED KENYA/THAI WILDLIFE DEAL WHICH MUST BE STOPPED BY ALL MEANS !

CORRUPTION: Anand sounds warning

Published on December 09, 2005

Graft becoming acceptable in Thai society and ruining the country, says former premier. Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun raised an alarm yesterday over corruption in the “entire family” and in “every family” as money politics becomes the norm in Thai society, a trend that he said bode ill for the country’s future.

“In other societies, some business firms gang up as mafia outfits to reap joint interests. In Thai society, they cheat in the entire family, in every family, as money politics is being accepted as a social norm,” he said.

Anand, in his capacity as chairman of Transparency Thailand, stated his concern in a strongly worded speech yesterday to an annual media award presentation ceremony organised by a non-profit organisation to promote transparency and accountability.

Respected anti-graft figures, including Auditor-General Khun-ying Charuwan Maintaka, former National Counter Corruption Commission secretary-general Klanarong Chantik, and former police chief General Prathin Santi-prapop, were among the guests.

Corruption has been so entrenched in Thai society at every level that there seems to be no cure for it at the moment, Anand said. He added that it saddened him to see a once-beautiful society turning into a more and more selfish nation.

“Some people even think that what is good for them must be good for the entire country. Rules and regulations can be changed on a whim, depending on who needs to use them,” he said.

In olden times, people were afraid to do wrong and more than ready to shun and condemn the corrupt. But now cheaters who do not get caught take pride in their ill-gotten gains as the fruit of good teamwork, he said.

“Many things unaccepted by the society when I was young seem to become acceptable now. What a big shame! They just don’t know what is right and what is wrong but think only money brings happiness,” he said.

“Craving for money, people, no matter whether they are good or bad, flock to the camp of those with political and financial power. They don’t know, however, that they are heading towards their doom,” Anand said.

“With such [selfishness] reigning, society will one day have no virtues left. It will be deprived of all moral and ethical integrity, intellect and responsibility. Society will be dead,” Anand said.

To save the country from ruin, he said members of the public and the media were beholden to counter corruption by exposing it.

“Working with honest responsibility, the media have the power to unmask corruptors who try to hide their crimes by claiming they are not corrupt. We can create a better society together,” he said.

 

Update: 08.12.2005

PM THAKSIN likes to TRANSFER: Wildlife from Kenya and Humans like Wares. - hopefully the Thai King is transfering him soon - into a dungeon or a desert.

And ALL PEOPLE IN THAILAND MUST NOW STOP USING AIS MOBILE SERVICES
BOYCOTT AIS MOBILE - the communications company owned by Thaksin

TRANSFER PROTESTS: Teachers give Sondhi their full support

Published on Dec 08 , 2005

Protesters back govt critic as part of their plans to step up the fight

Teachers' groups protesting the school-transfer plan yesterday pledged their support for government critic Sondhi Limthongkul while campaigning for more public support to back their cause.

A number of teachers lodged a petition with His Majesty the King at the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary in the Emerald Buddha Temple compound. It carried the signatures of more than 100,000 teachers.

Thanarat Somkhanay, a teachers' leader, said that a campaign has already been launched to convince government teachers and their families to stop using AIS mobile services, as the company is jointly owned by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Yesterday a number of teachers in Nakhon Pathom took the first symbolic steps by cancelling their subscriptions.

A formal charge of malfeasance will also be lodged against Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang next week, he said, explaining that Chaturon had issued a regulation imposing an unnecessary performance appraisal that resulted in more than 300,000 C-7 teachers across the country being exempted from a monthly payment of Bt3,500. "Since the government used the trick of citing laws as the reason for implementing the transfer plan against us, we will now do the same," he added.

Two groups of teachers met Sondhi at his Phujadkarn Daily office to pledge their support. Pheeraphol Sakaew, the leader for a teachers group in Surin province, said that up to 30,000 teachers were expected to attend Sondhi's weekly session at Lumpini Park tomorrow.

He said most teachers would leave Bangkok after attending the session and that there were unlikely to be any more mass demonstrations in Bangkok, but scattered gatherings would be organised throughout the country. Pheeraphol also apologised to the capital's residents for the traffic congestion caused by previous teachers' rallies.

Auychai Watha, the coordinator of teachers' campaigns, said that teachers would not hold any further strikes, but would be holding local meetings to brief themselves and local residents on updated information regarding further action over the transfer plan. "We did not lose the past battles and we are growing stronger and will unite even more. Our determination is not getting weaker as has been suggested by some government figures," he said.

Speaking about the details of the plans for the transfer scheme, Chaturon said teachers whose schools were run by local administrative bodies could still choose to be supervised by the Education Ministry.

Their performance evaluations and welfare benefits will not be changed and will still be regulated by the ministry.

The Nation - Bangkok Independent Newspaper
http://202.60.196.117/breaking/read.php?lang=en&newsid=99913

 

Update: 03.12.2005

Senate panel asking critical questions about Night Safari

The Nation, Bangkok         
December 03, 2005

The Senate committee on social development and human security will next week invite Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipipat and representatives of other agencies to shed light on the controversial Night Safari project, the chairman of the panel said yesterday.

Senator Niran Phitakwatchara said the panel was probing the project at the request of the "We Love Chiang Mai" alliance.

The panel has already concluded that the park violates the National Parks Act, which includes a ban on using protected forest land for commercial benefit.

Niran said the zoo left the nation open to "all sorts of diseases" when it imported animals from Kenya. He pointed out that the project has never undergone an environmental-impact assessment.

"This is similar to what the government tried to do with the draft of the Special Economic Zone Bill. It tried to exploit locations for business gain by disregarding the impact on society and the environment," Niran said.

The Night Safari park cost Bt1.15 billion, "but Chiang Mai residents have no idea what's going on there because of the lack of community participation in the project", he said.

Agencies such as the Royal Irrigation Department will be asked to explain why makeshift reservoirs were demolished, he said, and Suwat will be asked to describe everything he knows about the Chiang Mai World Mega-Project package, which includes the Night Safari.

The Senate committee earlier last month asked the zoo's chief executive officer, Plodprasop Suraswadi - who was recently appointed as vice minister to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry - to explain the project. But Plodprasop was abroad and sent a representative to speak for him.

 

The Associated Press 

12/3/2005, 10:38 a.m. ET

Thai safari pulls elephant meat from menu

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Visitors to a night safari in northern Thailand won't get to taste exotic animal meats as previously planned because the wildlife dishes sparked a storm of criticism and have been taken off the zoo menu, the project's director said Monday.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo announced last week an "Exotic Buffet" for VIP guests at its grand opening next year, which was to include tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe. But now only farm-raised alligator and ostrich will be served at the night safari, project director Plodprasop Suraswadi said in a statement.

"Any animal that is on display (at the zoo) will not be on the menu because it will cause confusion and misunderstanding about the intentions of the Chiang Mai Night Safari," Plodprasop said.

Critics last week lambasted the idea, saying it would encourage wildlife trafficking in a country and region already notorious for smuggling tiger parts, bear claws and endangered species for Chinese delicacies, traditional medicines and pets.

Plodprasop angrily lashed out at his "rude and judgmental" critics in his statement, telling international wildlife groups to look first at their own countries.

"Don't look down upon the Thai people. It was the Westerners themselves who started hunting wildlife - elephants and tigers in India," he said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or Peta, thanked Plodprasop for rethinking the plan to "butcher and serve" the animals he claims to protect, but called on him to now reconsider the importation of animals from Kenya.

Kenya said earlier this month it will give Thailand 175 wild animals - including African buffalo, various species of antelope, zebra and giraffe - as a gift to strengthen relations. But conservationists voiced concern that Thailand doesn't have a good track record of wildlife management and conservation.

"One has to wonder how long before the zoo 'rethinks' its position yet again, and each individual animal being exhibited ends up being sauteed, baked or barbecued," Jason Baker, director of Peta Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.

"The only responsible action would be to stop treating animals as commodities to be bought, sold and traded, to cease building amusement attractions that exploit animals, but instead focus on protecting and promoting animals in the wild," Baker said.

The project will have 2,000 animals of about 100 different species.

 

While the writer of the lines below rightly points a finger towards those "conservation"-organizations, who only exist to keep the problems alive in order to solicit funds and to live of them  - to "tackle the problem", but never to solve and get over them - he seems to be a Kenyan whose opinion couldn't get printed in Kenya, which is why he chose the Kigali Times and added a little sentence in front to camouflage. For his actual target the wildlife situation in Kenya and the stopped Thai wildlife deal, not only President Kibaki, but also the vast majority of Kenyans only have one description: PUMBAVU (KiSwaheli for STUPID) and just demonstrating that he has understood nothing.

Trading Animal Stories

The New Times (Kigali)

OPINION
December 3, 2005
Posted to the web December 30, 2005

Alex Wainaina
Kigali

With the human being at the top of the biological food chain, he is left to determine the fate of the rest of the beings on the planet. He has the privilege of having the ability to manipulate the rest for his own good.

That is why when issues pitting man against beast arise, the latter always ends up the loser. Different excuses and arguments will be put forward, with some saying whatever is being done is for the welfare of the wider society, the survival of the animals in question, the common good, ecological balance, blah blah blah.

An alleged scandal has been slowly simmering, brewing in the deep enclaves of animal conservation circles in Rwanda for sometime now. Insinuations, innuendoes and allegations doing the rounds are that the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund project has metamorphosed into a cash cow, with some dubious characters using its goodwill to solicit funds from donors which, interestingly, never get to find their way into the organizations coffers.This is just an example highlighting the selfish ends to which wildlife conservation is sometimes subjected to in Africa. It also puts into perspective the man-beast relationship, exposing the commercial undercurrents characterizing it.

But apparently that is not so in South Africa where they seem to be having too much of a good thing in their animal conservation activities. The conservationists have done their job of protecting and conserving the elephants so well that it is now coming back to haunt them. In the early eighties, the population of elephants in South Africa had almost been decimated by poaching activities and illegal trade in game trophy that thrived on the world's unrelenting demand the same.

Wildlife conservation bodies put into motion projects to raise the elephant populations. They intensified offensive activities against poachers and made it dangerous and difficult for game trophy traders to engage in the business. During that period, culling was legal and acted to control the animal populations. The organizations lobbied against and eventually convinced the government the reverse the cullying policy. With all these factors in place, the elephant population, by logical progression, rose steeply. According to a recent BBC report, Kruger National Park, one the largest of its kind in Southern Africa, boasts of an elephant population of almost 14,000, as compared to the more conservative figure of 7,000 which, it was felt, could be comfortably supported by the ecosystem. The government's intention to re-introduce culling has met with a lot of opposition both from within and without the conservation fraternity. With the issue currently generating more heat than lig ht, one wonders which the best way to deal with it is. Letting the status quo continue, according to experts, is detrimental to the survival of the jumbos as well as the rest of the wildlife as it will eventually lead to food shortage and environment degradation. Others (experts too) argue that the jumbos should be transferred to other parks or, even better, be medically rendered sterile or infertile. The proponents of culling do not seem to have such a large following. Yet one would be tempted to think that their argument holds more water because how long can one keep transferring the creatures to other parks or ignoring their soaring numbers.

Evetually there will come a time when no others parks will want to take them in. Left to their own devices, the animals will increase to large numbers since their lifespan is quite long. A beast against beast scenario will unfold, with the jumbos destroying the ecosystem that supports the lives of numerous other smaller creatures, whi ch may lead to their destruction. It may just be a matter of time before man and beast come into an antagonistic show down, with animals moving into human settlements, and vice versa, in search of livelihood. Usually, such incursions into each others territories are known to precipitate destruction of property and lives, with the animals being the ultimate losers. These, as I pointed earlier, are problems which can be avoided by resorting to culling. By so doing, the dignified existence of the remaining members of the culled species as well as the other creatures sharing the ecosystem will be assured. Handled properly, culling should be a systematic and non-wasteful process. The authorities concerned can also make some good money in the process by introducing sport hunting where people pay good sums for every animal that they shoot. Additional revenues can be accessed through the sales of products from the game hunts and culling exercises e.g. ivory, skins.All that needs to be done is to put aside the sentiments.

Or maybe the South Africans should one of these days drop in and seek some advice from Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki on how to solicit for customers whom to sell their wild animals to. Apparently, Kibaki is quite adept at this. Even in the midst of his 'referendum' headache, he still managed to seal a deal with Thailand's prime minister whose government is buying almost a hundred and fifty wild animals, most of them small. And for a good amount of money too, amounting to one million dollars. The money accruing from this deal is to be used in conservation of the Kenyan wildlife. This has created a lot of fury in the country, with accusations that Kibaki is trading away Kenya's heritage. A recent Thai buffet dinner at Hilton Hotel in Nairobi serving game meat did not do much to assuage the opponents of the deal. The animals in question are part of Kenya's natural endowment, just like the minerals, forests and so on. I am yet to hear of anyone complaining that the country is trading away its minerals or milk from the cows. Another school of thought is putting another spin to the Kibaki animal deal by saying that there won't be any tourists going to Kenya from Thailand since they will only need to go to their zoo to see the animals there without having to come all the way to Africa. Now whoever heard of a tourist coming all the way to Africa just to see the animals? They do it for the experience, the travel, to see other cultures, lands and, yes, the animals. So you see, the animals are just a part of the whole caboodle and the tourist will not just cancel his trip just because he saw some few animals in a zoo. Do those mobile circuses in Europe featuring lions, elephants and leopards prevent Europeans from coming to Africa? No.

Some few months ago, a suggestion to introduce culling to control animal populations in Kenya drew raw emotions from many a corner, something that I could not understand. Many Kenyans are, culturally, voracious meat eaters; the fine art of meat roasting is a time-honoured reality which must be mustered by any man worth his salt. That means you will never hear anyone yelling blue murder when goats and cattle are slaughtered in their thousands. That puts paid to the pseudo concern for animal welfare. So raising a ruckus just because Kibaki is selling the animals is not only dishonest but sheer hypocrisy. The likelihood that the Thais might actually use the animals for exotic cuisines in their country is no reason for us wail and gnashes our teeth. Who mourns for the goats? Of late, Kibaki was not everybody's favourite in Kenya and his political adversaries have been throwing anything they can get their hands on at him. And of course they will criticize whatever he does not because it is bad but because he is the one who has done it. It is politics and, in this case, the politicians were just playing the animals card to solicit support in the referendum vote. When the the storm dies and the dust has settled down, everyone will see reality for what it is;they will agree that animals are our resources to use as we deem fit, be it for tourism, food or whatever. Nothing wrong with making a buck (no pan intended) out of them while you are at it.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200512300151.html

 

Update: 30.11.2005

Team to ratify gift of animals, says envoy

DAILY NATION
Story by EDMUND KWENA
Publication Date: 11/30/2005

The controversial donation of 175 wild animals to Thailand will be effected only after approval by an international convention.

Thai ambassador to Kenya Akrasid Amatayakul said the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) rules would be observed when the animals are moved, and no endangered ones would be affected.

In an interview with the Nation, he assured Kenyans that the animals would be kept in an open zoo and not mistreated or butchered for meat as claimed by those opposing the donation.

"The Thai people appreciate this donation and look at it as a sign of (our) strong relations," said Mr Amatayakul, who witnessed the opening of the first Thai restaurant in Coast region.

He asked why some were against the transfer of buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, flamingoes, dik diks, impalas, warthogs, hyenas and marabou storks, among others, "when animals from East Africa are found in many zoos around the world."

The deal to export the animals was signed on November 9 by President Kibaki and Thai prime minister Thaksin Shanawatra, who was on a visit. Thai authorities will give Kenya Sh80 million following the deal.

Last weekend, the Mombasa-based Environment Trust of Kenya (ETK) and the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers were the first to support the transfer of the animals.

ETK chairman Zacchaeus Nderu said the export would market Kenya abroad while the KAHC Coast branch chairman Mohamed Hersi said the move would have no adverse effect on game parks.

"The US has the best zoos in the world, (yet) Americans continue coming to Kenya to see our animals," he said.

The envoy said that Chiang Mai Park, where the animals would be located, is next to the second biggest Thai city frequented by many tourists. "This will serve as a marketing window for Kenya’s tourism," he added.

He said Thailand was also keen to learn from Kenya its conservation skills, which have seen the country successfully manage huge animal sanctuaries.

The ambassador, who talked on a wide range of issues, said his country wanted to share with Kenya its experiences in the management of Aids, agriculture, tourism – Thailand received 12 millions tourists in the last two years – and water management.

"We are ready to send experts to train in these fields as we also look for investment opportunities in Kenya," he said.

 

Update: 29.11.2005

Press Statement from Kitengela Community

29th Tuesday, 2005

1. As communities living with Wildlife, we clearly state that we do not accept the heavy handed position taken by the Government to send our wildlife by force to a zoo in Thailand. We have neither been involved nor consulted and hence this would be another case of a memorandum of mis-understanding between the Governments regarding wildlife.

2. We wish to note here that the wildlife has not yet been captured and as the communities living with and neighboring wildlife areas, we have the determination, the capacity and the support from Kenyans to stop it. Our community will remain alert looking for any suspicious activity around the Nairobi National Park and its environs and act accordingly. And should the Government still insist in forcing the deal, we will invade the Park and camp in it to protect our animals from being lifted to Thailand.

3. We wish to inform the Government that it has failed us as Kenyan communities coexisting with wildlife by totally ignoring us and we will not rest until our respect is restored through the withdrawal of wildlife deal from the trade MoU between Thailand and Kenya.

4. We are also aware of the underhand dealings going on between the private ranchers and the Government to secure some of these animals privately. As the communities who suffer the day today brunt of human-wildlife conflict, we will not, at all costs, allow this to happen.

5. WE THEREFORE CALL UPON HIS EXCELLENCY OUR PRESIDENT HON. MWAI KIBAKI TO LISTEN TO WHAT THE COMMUNITIES ARE SAYING AND REVOKE THE THAI WILDLIFE EXPORT DEAL. COMMUNITIES REMAIN THE NUMBER ONE CUSTODIANS OF OUR WILDLIFE HERITAGE.

Geoffrey Ole Ntapayia

0722347417
COORDINATOR

 

 

Memorandum from Kitengela and Kajiado Community on the Exportation of Wildlife to Thailand

We, the Kitengela and Kajiado community, together with thousands of concerned citizens in Kenya and around the world, are strongly opposed to the government’s decision to export 175 of Kenya’s free-ranging wild animals to Chiang Mai Night Safari zoo in Thailand. We believe Kenya’s wildlife should remain in Kenya for the benefit of all Kenyans. They are part of our magnificent national heritage. Outlined below are the reasons behind our concerns:


- The animals involved include endangered species in Appendix 2 of the CITES list such as Serval cat, Crowned cranes, Lesser flamingos and Hippopotamus. Other species include Gerenuks, Spotted hyenas, Silver backed jackals, Maasai giraffe, Reticulated giraffes, Topis, Impalas, Grant’s gazelles, Thompson’s gazelles, Wildebeests, Kirk’s dikdiks, Zebra, African buffaloes, Waterbucks, Warthogs and Greater kudus. Many of these species are already under pressure from threats such as the bushmeat trade.

- According to a report by the Department of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) in 2004, Kenya’s wildlife population declined by 40-60% between 1977 and 1994. This massive decline is estimated to be even higher now, due to the rampant illegal bushmeat trade, excision of forests, and widespread encroachment into parks and reserves for human settlement. We note with concern that no National Animal Census has taken place since this report, and figures given by the Government’s spokesman are thus unreliable.

- Kenya’s wild animals have evolved alongside our local environment for hundreds of thousands of years. There are very real dangers, therefore, in taking them to an alien environment, where they are likely to be susceptible to potentially fatal diseases. (Zoo tigers in Thailand have recently been hit by Avian Flu resulting in the death of around 100 animals.)

- The process of capturing wild animals, caging them, and transporting them over long distances, is a procedure that should only be undertaken when absolutely necessary. The relocation of problem elephants, the restocking of protected areas such as Meru National Park, or the translocation of the endangered Rothschild Giraffe are all essential wildlife management procedures, expertly undertaken by the KWS. The capture of animals for overseas zoos, may result in excessive stress for the animals concerned, and could lead to widespread mortality. This, in our opinion, is neither essential nor necessary.

- Kenya has achieved international respect for its conservation policies which has directly led to an increase in wildlife tourism. The transportation of our animals to a Thai zoo is clearly going to damage this reputation, and threatens to negate Kenya’s unique position. This could lead to a damaging decline in tourist numbers.

- Kenya has always guarded against the exportation of its biodiversity. By exporting these 175 animals, Kenya will be enhancing biopiracy which it has always stood against and will be setting a dangerous precedent for the future.

- Kenya’s Government has stood firm against the bushmeat trade, for which it is to be applauded. The zoo’s recent appalling plans, therefore, to serve up an exotic menu of elephant, lion and giraffe, were completely unacceptable. Whilst this plan has now been withdrawn following an international outcry, it clearly shows how far removed Thailand are from Kenya’s conservation values and policies.

- Kenya has always endeavoured to alleviate human poverty and conserve wild animals. Wildlife, through ecotourism, has the potential to create employment especially for well-organized local communities. With the streamlining of policy and legislation, more and more Kenyans stand to benefit from the non-consumptive, benign appreciation of wildlife, a benefit they will be denied if these animals are exported.

- As Kenyans, we need to promote tourism at home as opposed to encouraging growth of tourism elsewhere. Tourism is an important part of Kenya’s economy. We should be encouraging tourists to come and experience the hospitality that Kenya’s has to offer, the majesty of our diverse environments and the beauty of our wildlife for themselves. We are seriously concerned that many of the expected visitors to Kenya next year may change their minds on the basis of this decision.


We therefore call upon the President of Kenya, His Excellency Hon. Mwai Kibaki, to intervene and remove the wildlife deal from the MoU with the Thai Government.

Signed for and on behalf of the community:

Godfrey Ole Ntapayia

0722 347417
COORDINATOR

 

Update: 27.11.2005

Now wildlife export deal gets backing

Story by SUNDAY NATION Correspondent
Publication Date: 11/27/2005

An environmental lobby group and a key tourism association yesterday welcomed the Government's decision to export wildlife to Thailand.

In a statement yesterday, the Environment Trust of Kenya chairman, Mr Zachariah Kagombe Nderu, said the exports would increase the marketing of Kenya’s wildlife abroad.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, Coast branch chairman, Mr Mohammed Hersi, said the deal would not affect the popularity of the country among tourists abroad. The controversial decision to export 135 animals to the Asian country, signed in Nairobi two weeks ago when Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Kenya, was condemned by several leading conservationists.

The animals would be exported in exchange for Sh80 million which will be used in the management of rogue elephants.

The deal between the two countries sparked outrage with Kanu and LDP condemning it as "selling Kenya's heritage."

SOURCE

 

Thai Prime Minister - Mr Thaksin Shinawatra -, a former communications tycoon, critizised as authoritarian and corrupt.

THAILAND: All the dirt on Thaksin in one newspaper

Media mogul continues criticism of Thai Premier and plans to launch tabloid that details Shinawatra's corrupt, authoritarian power

Straits Times
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bangkok --- A top critic of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday that he will launch a weekly newspaper printing his scathing public rebukes of the Thai Prime Minister, as political tension mounted over the feud between the two men.

The 16-page colour tabloid, set to debut tomorrow, will package together prominent media publisher Sondhi Limthongkul's weekly public speeches, video CDs, newspapers and websites -- all criticising the Prime Minister as authoritarian and corrupt.

The Sondhi-Thaksin feud has made the Prime Minister's once-formidable administration seem suddenly vulnerable.

It has also triggered fears of political instability in Thailand -- due mainly to the strong feelings aroused on both sides of the dispute by Mr Sondhi's mention of the kingdom's beloved monarchy.

Plans for the new paper were announced on a website run by Mr Sondhi's Manager Media Group. But there is no mention whether the new publication would be distributed free or for sale.

On Friday night, tens of thousands of people gathered in a Bangkok park for Mr Sondhi's weekly public anti-government speech.

Last week, he addressed the crowd on big-screen TVs by live video link from the northern province of Udon Thani -- where he is taking refuge in a Buddhist temple -- due to what he called safety concerns.

He said he was under threat from unidentified men following him, and did not want to endanger the public.

Mr Sondhi has aroused strong passions, less for verbally attacking Mr Thaksin than for invoking the Thai monarchy in his speeches.

In accusing Mr Thaksin of corruption and power abuse, he has charged that the Prime Minister has usurped some of the privileges of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Mr Thaksin has filed several lawsuits against Mr Sondhi and his associates -- including a case in which the Premier is seeking one billion baht (S$41 million) in defamation damages.

Last Friday, Mr Sondhi demanded that Mr Thaksin resign "to return the power to the King," and for a new Constitution to be drafted.

Mr Thaksin, whose party won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections just nine months ago, has come under increasing pressure over his alleged power abuse, his handling of a bloody Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand as well as the privatisation of some state enterprises.

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article-southeastasia.asp?parentid=34351

Update: 22.11.2005

Tuesday 22 November 2005

Wildlife taken off the menu at Night Safari

Plodprasop backtracks as public goes bananas

221105_new03 (4K)

Plodprasop: I have not lost face

PREEYANAT PHANAYANGGOOR

Animal lovers savoured a victory yesterday when the Chiang Mai Night Safari scrapped plans to serve wild animal meat in park restaurants. Park director Plodprasop Suraswadi called an urgent press conference to say no restaurants will offer wild meats as earlier planned because it would confuse visitors and go against the park's theme of education and animal conservation.

However, he said, the exception would be crocodile and ostrich meat which were locally consumed and raised on farms.

Dog meat from Sakon Nakhon's Tha Rae district would also be taken off the menu because the majority of people disapproved of its consumption, said Mr Plodprasop.

He was strongly criticised by the public last week after revealing his idea to offer exotic buffets consisting of zebra, crocodile, giraffe, dog and other exotic fare.

``I have not lost face and don't feel embarrassed because I am doing what society wants,'' Mr Plodprasop said, denying the decision was made because of pressure from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his cabinet.

Both local and international animal activists opposed the idea of serving wild animal meat at a zoo ostensibly promoting animal conservation.

Mr Plodprasop hit back at international activists, urging them to look at the activities of their own people which were against conservation. He cited whale hunting and restaurants serving wild animal meats such as the Carnivore in Kenya.

``Don't just target and criticise only Thailand,'' he said.

Mr Plodprasop also denied the exotic menu was part of a marketing campaign to promote the newly-opened park. However, he said, the debate over the last few days had raised the number of park visitors to about 4,000 per day, more than expected.

SOURCE

 

Outrage over Thai zoo's plan for rare wildlife menu

Story by PAUL REDFERN ,NATION Correspondent, London
Publication Date: 11/22/2005

There has been outrage among western wildlife campaigners at information that a new Thai zoo plans to allow visitors to eat rare African wildlife.

The Chiang Mai zoo, due to open in January, was expected to receive a number of animals from Kenya including lions, elephants and giraffes.

While it is not clear that the zoo plans to allow visitors to eat the wildlife from Kenya, its project director Plod Prasop Suraswadi has made no bones about acknowledging that rare animals will be on the lunch menu.

"The zoo will offer visitors the chance to experience exotic foods such as kangaroo, giraffe, snake, elephant and tiger and lion meat. We will also provide crocodile and dog meat," he said.

There has already been anger and concern in Kenya at the plans to sell its wildlife to Thailand, and Western wildlife experts also joined in the outrage at the weekend.

A spokeswoman for UK-based wildlife group Born Free said she was, "absolutely horrified about this zoo and its restaurant menu.

"We want to make British tourists aware of what is going on there and appeal to them not to visit the zoo."

In all, around 726 species of animal are due to be shipped from Kenya and Australia to the £9 million (Sh1 billion) zoo.

The Thai media have alleged that the zoo has paid up to $1 million (Sh75 million) for the animals despite Kenya’s assertions that they were being donated in exchange for technical help and training on wildlife management.

Visitors will be charged around £60 (Sh7,680) to eat from the "exotic buffet", which even Thailand’s own Wildlife Fund spokesman Surapol Duangkae has acknowledged will "set Thailand’s image back a century."

Kenya Wildlife Service said none of the species being sent to Thailand would be endangered.

 

Outrage forces review of exotic animal meat buffet

BANGKOK (AFP) - Outraged wildlife conservationists have forced a top Thai minister to reconsider plans to put exotic animals on the menu of a restaurant in a northern Thailand zoo.

Thai Vice Minister for Natural Resources and Environment Plodprasop Surasawadi said Friday that he will review the controversial menu following harsh criticism from wildlife activists.

"I may have jumped the gun and proposed my idea too quickly so I will reconsider what type of meat should be on the menu. I will not do what is considered to be bad for the country," he told AFP.

The move follows criticism from conservationists both here and in Kenya, which agreed last week to give Thailand 175 wild animals and birds to stock the Chiang Mai Night Safari, where the Vareekunchorn restaurant will be located.

"There is one restaurant in Nairobi which serves various kinds of meat from commercially raised (exotic) animals, so I thought we could import meat from this restaurant and it would make the restaurant different," Plodprasop said.

"Thai people already have some exotic dishes like fried insects, ostrich and crocodile meat which are legal so I thought why not import some other kinds of meat that are available and legal in Kenya."

But conservationists say the daily buffet of zebra, giraffe and crocodile would send the message that Thailand condones the trafficking and consumption of endangered animals.

"Trading animals is both immoral and against the law. What the government has done with Kenya makes Thailand seem like an uncivilized country using financial power as a condition to get natural resources from poorer countries, which in this case is wildlife," said Nikom Putta, director of Thai non-governmental organisation Wildlife Fund's northern region.

"That would worsen our image in the international arena regarding our animal protection standards, which in fact are very low."

Nikom said he was ready to team up with Kenyan wildlife activists, who also bristled at the planned animal buffet.

"We need to verify the truth about this buffet. If it's true the government needs to re-think about sending animals to Thailand," Connie Maina, the spokeswoman for Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), told AFP.

Roger Lohanan, director of Thai Solidarity for Protection of Animals, said Friday he had sent a complaint to the Geneva-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) asking it to approach the Thai government.

"I have sent an e-mail to CITES to ask them to take action and open informal talks with Thai government," he said, adding that while it wasn't illegal to import that meat for the planned buffet, it was unethical.

Roger said Plodprasop was infamous for his lack of fully understanding conservation issues.

Siri Wangboonkeard, chairman of the Animal Welfare Protection Group, handed over a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop at Government House protesting the restaurant.

"The purpose of a zoo is to urge visitors, who are mostly youths, to love and protect animals, not to eat them," he said.

The zoo, in Thaksin's home region, will open on New Year's Day and will feature five restaurants, according to Thai officials.

Kenyan officials said none of the animals to be sent to Chiang Mai were endangered. These animals include zebras, flamingos, African buffaloes, hippos, spotted hyenas, silver-back jackals and impalas.

SOURCE

 

Update: 19.11.2005

Game meat at Thai party raises queries

Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 11/19/2005

Controversy continued to dog the recent decision by the Government to give 175 wild animals to Thailand following news that some of their zoo-mates in Bangkok might be turned into an exotic meal.

The meal will be served to dignitaries at $100 (Sh7,400) per plate, on New Year's day to mark the opening of the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo.

Last week, the Kenyan and Thai Governments signed the controversial pact despite protest by local and international conservationists.

The animals include African buffalo, various species of antelope, zebra and giraffe, and are a gift to strengthen relations, but conservationists voiced concern that Thailand does not have a good track record of wildlife management and conservation.

The project, based on Singapore's Night Safari Zoo, will have 2,000 animals of about 100 different species.

Dignitaries at the grand opening of the night safari zoo in northern Thailand will get to see exotic animals and also get to taste them.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo will have its official opening on New Year's Day, and the "Exotic Buffet" marking the event will include tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe, said Plodprasop Suraswadi, the director of the zoo project.

"The VIP guest who pay 4,500 baht ($110) for the buffet will have the privilege of tasting an exotic menu, ranging from dog meat from (Thailand's Sakhon Nakhon province) to lion meat from Africa," Plodprasop told reporters.

Critics have criticised the idea, saying that it will encourage wildlife trafficking in a country and region already notorious for smuggling tiger parts, bear claws and endangered species for Chinese delicacies, traditional medicines and pets.

SOURCE

 

Beauty and Beast

THE TIMES OF INDIA 19 November,2005
Editorial

It's about time we recognised the United Nations of Animals

KENYA is pushing for a place in the United Nations Security Council on the strength of its population of wild animals. The Kenyan government will dispatch 175 wild animals, including hippopotami, giraffes, gnus and warthogs to Thailand, to be housed in Chiang Mai Night Safari Park, a pet project of the Thai prime minister. In turn, Thailand will support Kenya's bid. Animal rights activists are outraged by the transaction that mortgages the freedom of these creatures for a chair in a New York chamber. The Kenyan government sought to establish that the zoos of the world would not exist without such barter. Both parties seem to miss the point: Why not recognise the existence of the United Nations of Animals? Our Panchatantra tales tell us that animals conduct conferences better than we do. The fox, jackal and crow seem to have rather an equal say, with no caucus such as the G-4 in our UN. As Russian naturalist Petr Kropotkin pointed out, the animal kingdom lays store by cooperation rather than competition; he was countering the Darwinian wisdom of his time.

The Kenyan government, instead of seeking to establish a dubious sense of ownership over animals, should seek to teach the UN what humankind can learn from the 'wild'. Animals understand and respect territory, but do not hunger for land and its resources the way we do in the name of some ideology or the other. The UN should hold separate classes for all heads of state, G-4 and all, on the lessons to be learnt from what man mistakenly considers lesser beings. Is the brain the only seat of intelligence? By what intellectual skull-duggery did man place himself at the apex of all creation? The 20th century exposed man's amazing sadism, perversion and bloodthirst. Beastly, did you say? The time has come for the UN to debate this mother of all caste systems. The most dangerous animals cannot match the acts of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden and Milosevic. Not many, humans and hippos alike, would take to the view that George W Bush, said to control the UN, is an apostle of compassion. Will Kenya initiate a multispecies debate?

 

Update: 17.11.2005

Plodprasop was a graduate of Oregon State University. He has been behind the forced relocation of many Akha villages as Forestry Chief in Thailand.

CHIANG MAI SAFARI: Rare animals on the menu at zoo

Published on November 17, 2005

Visitors offered daily buffet of lion, tiger, elephant and giraffe meat; conservation groups outraged. Lovers of “wild” cuisine are in for a treat when Chiang Mai’s Night Safari opens next year, project director Plodprasop Suraswadi said yesterday. Visitors to the park’s Vareekunchorn restaurant will have the option of tucking in to an “Exotic Buffet” of tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe, for just Bt4,500 a head.

The park, which had a soft opening yesterday, officially opens on New Year’s Day.

The animal-buffet idea has drawn strong protests from wildlife groups, which have expressed concern that the menu of endangered and protected animals will confuse the public and foreign visitors about the real objective of the zoo, as well as Thailand’s stance on wildlife conservation.

According to Plodprasop, animals for the buffet would be imported daily and legally to the zoo.

Ironically, the prime minister said the park would aim to increase public awareness of natural science and wildlife.

“The zoo will be outstanding, with several restaurants offering visitors the chance to experience exotic foods such as imported horse, kangaroo, giraffe, snake, elephant, tiger and lion meat.

“We will also provide domestic crocodile and dog meat from Sakon Nakhon province,” Plodprasop said at a press tour before Thaksin presided over the soft opening.

Plodprasop said food provided at the buffet restaurant would be fresh daily and cooked by five foreign chefs.

Wildlife Fund Thailand secretary Surapol Duangkae said yesterday that although consuming wildlife didn’t violate Cites [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species], it could fly in the face of moral issues and worsen the country’s image on wildlife-trade issues.

“The idea will set the country’s image back a century, because nowadays zoos around the world aim to educate and conserve wildlife, as well as campaigning to stop the killing of animals,” he said.

He said the action of the government would appear to the world as if Thailand approved of the endangered-wildlife trade and consumption.

Read more.....
There have already been cases of 100 tigers exported to China, elephants planned to be transferred to Australia and the illegal import of orang-utans.

Surapol said the country has also been accused of trafficking endangered species, and being a trading centre and hunting ground for endangered species.

“The government’s action seems to confirm these accusations,” Surapol said.

Petch Manopavitr, a Wildlife Conservation Society activist said this was a sensitive issue as the prime minister had previously declared that the country wanted to suppress wildlife trade in the region.

“I see it as a bad idea to market the zoo. In fact, it was wrong from the start with the idea of importing wild animals from Kenya,” Petch said.

Petch was also concerned about illnesses from eating wild animals.

“The zoo should be a place for study and conservation, not killing. Promoting the eating of wild animals will confuse adults and children about what’s right and what’s wrong,” he said.

However, the prime minister seemed unconvinced by Plodprasop’s idea as he said that only part of a crocodile’s body could be eaten and it therefore wouldn’t be worth killing.

Piyanart Srivalo,

Chatrarat Kaewmorakot

The Nation

SOURCE

 

Update: 16.11.2005

Council condemns State plan to export wildlife

The Standard
Wednesday November 16, 2005

By Alex Kiprotich

The Community Based Organisations Council has condemned Government plans to export wild animals to Thailand.

National chairman, Tom Aosa, said the agreement reached by President Kibaki and Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during his visit was an insult to Kenya’s heritage.

"The actions by the Government are a betrayal and extremely self defeatist," he said.

Aosa said the council was undertaking research on how exported wild animals kept in the Chiang Mai Night Safari Park were faring.

Preliminary findings, he claimed, show unethical treatment of animals in Thailand zoos.

"The preliminary research findings we have stumbled upon provide crucial bits of information on the unethical treatment of animals in Thailand zoos, including the sale of the same to individuals," said Aosa.

He urged the Government to hear the pleas of the people who have rejected the deal.

 

Exotic Animal Meats on VIP Menu at Zoo

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - VIP guests at the grand opening of the night safari zoo in northern Thailand will not only get to see exotic animals - they'll get to taste them.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo will have its official opening on New Year's Day, and the "Exotic Buffet" marking the event will include tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe, said Plodprasop Suraswadi, the director of the zoo project.

"The VIP guest who pay 4,500 baht ($110) for the buffet will have the privilege of tasting an exotic menu, ranging from dog meat from (Thailand's Sakhon Nakhon province) to lion meat from Africa," Plodprasop told reporters.

Critics have lambasted the idea, saying that it will encourage wildlife trafficking in a country and region already notorious for smuggling tiger parts, bear claws and endangered species for Chinese delicacies, traditional medicines and pets.

"Serving rare animals on the table confirms that Thailand is ignoring policies for wildlife preservation," said Wildlife Fund Thailand secretary Suraphol Duangkae.

"Thailand's image is already bad for trading animals and being a transit and laundering point (for smugglers)," Suraphol said. "The zoo will make only the image worse by serving rare animals."

Kenya said last week it will give Thailand 175 wild animals - including African buffalo, various species of antelope, zebra and giraffe - as a gift to strengthen relations, but conservationists voiced concern that Thailand does not have a good track record of wildlife management and conservation.

The project, based on Singapore's Night Safari Zoo, will have 2,000 animals of about 100 different species.

11/16/05 23:17 EST

Link: http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20051116231909990008&cid=842

 

Update: 14.11.2005

The Coalition Against The Exportation of Wildlife to Thailand

PRESS STATEMENT

Monday, November 14, 2005

We hereby declare that our Government has failed its people as regards the Thai Zoo deal. Though the Government ought to promote democratic principles of good Governance, consultation and involvement, it has on the contrary adopted a utilitarian system of high handedness ignoring its own people. This is exemplified in the way the minister of Tourism and wildlife blocked all the effort by communities and conservationists to meet him over the Thai Wildlife Deal. The Government hence clearly contradicts its own conservation foundation of community and stakeholder participation in wildlife conservation matters.

We are also shocked, outraged and alarmed that the office of the government spokesman is misinforming the public and international community that we have excessive animals that need to be culled and that the Government will not export any endangered animals. The fact of the matter is we do not have excess animals and with the rampant bush meat trade, every animal in Kenya is now endangered.

We are also deeply concerned that KWS officials misadvised the Government on this matter. KWS have the mandate to properly advice the Government and the people of Kenya on wildlife issues. Advice based on research and facts on the ground. We therefore call upon KWS to withdraw the erroneous report they did on the issue, which is also devoid of stakeholders’ involvement, and apologize to the Kenyan people.

It is unfortunate that our wildlife heritage has been reduced to objects of trade, signed away under bilateral trade agreement through the Ministry of Trade and Industry. We wish to state clearly that our wildlife is a national heritage and that every Kenyan has a stake and should not be treated as objects.

We hereby call upon each and every individual Kenyans to remain firm and boycott all Thai products and services until the exportation of our wildlife is struck off the MoU.

Signed for and on behalf of The Coalition Against The Exportation of Wildlife to Thailand

 

LOCAL COALTION MEMBERS

  1. AfriCat Foundation 

  2. Akha Heritage Foundation

  3. Amboseli Tsavo Conflict Resolution Committee 

  4. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT)

  5. Eastern Africa Environmental Network (EAEN)

  6. ECO Ethics International Union-Nairobi Chapter

  7. EcoTerra - Kenya

  8. Green Alive 

  9. Japanese NGO Maasai Project 

  10. Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA)

  11. Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Network

  12. Kipeto Landowners Association 

  13. Kitengela Landowners Association (KLA)

  14. NARC Youth Congress

  15. One Stop Youth Information Resource Center

  16. Pastoralists Information Bureau 

  17. Sunworld Safaris

  18. The Born Free Foundation - Kenya

  19. Youth Center for Biodiversity Conservation (YCBC) 

  20. Youth Environment Network - Kenya

  21. Youth for Conservation

  22. Youth Organization for a Clean Environment and Development (YOCED)

 

Press Statement from local Communities

14th Nov., Monday, 2005

1. As communities living with Wildlife, we clearly state that we do not accept the utilitarian and high handed position taken by the Government to send our wildlife to a zoo in Thailand . We have neither been involved nor consulted and hence this is another case of a memorandum of mis-understanding between the Governments regarding wildlife.

2. We wish to note here that the wildlife has not yet been captured and as the communities living with or neighboring wildlife areas, we have the determination, the capacity and the support from Kenyans to stop it. Our network across the country is on the alert looking for any suspicious activity around the parks and reserves to react. And should the Government still insist in forcing the deal, we will invade the parks and render them useless and see where else the Government will get 42 billion Kenya Shillings as they got from tourism last year.

3. We wish to inform the Government that it has failed us as Kenyan communities coexisting with wildlife by totally ignoring us and we will not rest until our respect is restored through the withdrawal of the Thai Wildlife Zoo Deal. We wish to remind the Government at this juncture that the Communities are the number one custodians of Wildlife in the Country.

4. We are also aware of the under dealings going on between the private ranchers and the Government to secure some of these animals privately. As the communities who suffer the day today brunt of human-wildlife conflict, we will not, at all costs, allow this to happen.

5. In addition, as communities, we also join the coalition’s call in calling upon all Kenyan Communities across the country to boycott Thai trade products until they withdraw wildlife from the MoU.

Sidney Quntai

0722 945 760        

Chairman – Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Network

Geoffrey Ole Ntapayia

0722347417

Chairman – Olkejaudo Natural Resource Management Network

Signed on behalf of Kenyan local communities against the exportation of wildlife to Thailand

 

East African Standard

Monday November 14, 2005

Councils recruit scouts to stop Thailand ‘animal gifts’

By Ochieng’ Oreyo

Communities around game parks and reserves have organised scouts to stop the Government from donating some 175 animals to Thailand.

A coalition against the move says 10,000 Maasai morans had been mobilised in Narok by the Trans Mara and Olkejuado county councils to do surveillance and stop "any suspicious" move by the Government.

The Coalition Against the Exportation of Wildlife to Thailand, made up of 22 organisations and pressure groups, said they had taken the move because the Government had adopted "a totalitarian system of high-handedness," ignoring the local communities in the deal.

"Our network across the country is on the alert looking for any suspicious activity around the parks and reserves to react," said a statement by the Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Network.

The co-ordinator of the coalition, Mr Josphat Ngonyo, and the secretary, Mr Steve Itela, accused the minister for Tourism, Mr Morris Dzoro, of blocking the local communities and conservationists in the deal.

"The Government clearly contradicts its own conservation foundation of community and stakeholder participation in wildlife conservation matters," they said.

They called on Kenyans to boycott Thai products and services to protest at the arrangement.

It was unfortunate, the group said, to sign off Kenya’s wildlife heritage as "objects of trade."

"We call upon every Kenyan to remain firm and boycott all Thai products and services until the exportation of our wildlife is struck off the MoU," said the coalition.

 

Successful Results of Prime Minister Thaksin's Visit to Kenya and Turkey

[aapn] The official story of the Thai Public Relations department (14/11/2005)

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who returned from Kenya and Turkey on 12 November 2005, spoke about the successful results of his visit to the two countries, in his weekly radio address on the same day.

The Prime Minister said that he had announced 2005 as "Thailand's Year of Africa Campaign," in an effort to expand cooperation in all areas between Asian and African regions. During his visit to Kenya, he offered fellowships to Kenyan personnel for a study tour of Thailand, which would be a chance for both countries to learn from each other. Since Kenya often hosts international meetings, but does not have enough luxurious hotels to accommodate delegates, Kenya urged Thai investors to invest in constructing five-star hotels there. The Prime Minister said that the Thai government was ready to support Thai business people to invest in the hotel business there, as well as other related operations, such as restaurant and spa services and trade exhibition management.

Prime Minister Thaksin said that Kenya wanted to increase its direct flights to Thailand. In this regard, he said that Don Muang Airport was quite crowded now. After the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport next year, Thailand would allow more direct flights between the two countries.

He revealed that the Kenyan government had agreed to give a number of wild animals to Thailand in their joint cooperation in wild animal research. The Prime Minister stressed that the wildlife contract did not violate the rules and laws set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. Thailand did not buy animals from Kenya, but the two countries have cooperated in research and conservation of rare wildlife, which would be of great benefit.

He said that the population of wild animals in Kenya was great, so many of them had to be killed in an effort to control their population. Instead of killing them, Kenya decided to send a number of them to Thailand to conduct joint research. According to the Prime Minister, the Kenyan wild animals would be sent to Chiang Mai Night Safari park in northern Thailand. The park has an animal hospital and capable researchers. The project would also provide education for Thai children.

 

Update: 11.11.2005

Fury at Kenya wild game shipment

11.11.2005

Conservationists are furious that Kenya has signed a deal with Thailand to hand over some 175 animals from game parks.

Kenyan authorities stressed none of the animals, including zebra, hippos and giraffe, would be endangered species.

But animal rights groups fear for the welfare of the animals during the 7,200km (4,470-mile) journey.

Thailand has agreed to provide wildlife management training and technical support. The Kenyan press is calling the deal the "animals-for-aid" scandal.

The International Animal Fund for Animal Welfare says selling off "Kenya's national heritage" was setting a dangerous precedent.

'Stress and injury'

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua told Reuters news agency that they were animals that the country had in abundance.

He said no rhinos or any animals protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) would be sent to Thailand.

He gave no date for the shipment's departure, but said the number of animals had been reduced from the 300 initially planned.

The animals will be sent to a zoo in the home town of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which is scheduled to open in April.

The deal was announced during Mr Shinawatra's official visit to the east African state, the first ever by a Thai prime minister.

Animal rights groups fear that the deal - reported to be worth $500,000 will put the wild animals' lives at risk and may threaten Kenya's tourist trade.

"We are concerned about the welfare of the animals, and the stress and risk of injury and death in their capture and transportation," Alice Owen of the London-based Born Free Foundation told Reuters news agency.

 

Wildlife deal with Thailand clarified

DAILY NATION
Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 11/11/2005

The Government yesterday laid bare the memorandum of understanding signed between Kenya and Thailand over the sale of 175 wild animals.

It published a list of the 24 species involved and moved to dispel fears that it was giving away endangered species such as black rhinos, lions, leopards and cheetahs, which had sparked protests from animal conservationists.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua gave out the list yesterday at a news conference in his KICC office and listed a number of economic benefits that Kenya would gain from the deal.

Among these are the hiring of English teachers from Kenya and the decision by the Thai government to use Kenya as its economic hub for Africa.

He also published the MoU and list of species on the newly launched Government spokesman's web site www.communication.go.ke for anyone wishing to check it. 

According to the list, species to be exported include; topi, silver backed jackal, serval, lesser flamingo, warthogs, yellow billed storks, Maasai giraffes, reticulated giraffes, common zebras, greater kudu, marabou stork (juvenile), common waterbuck, impala, Grant's gazelles, Thompson's gazelles, crowned cranes, wildebeest, spotted hyenas, hippopotamus, Kirk's dik dik, gerenuk and buffalo.

( please see our COPY of  MEMORANDUM BETWEEN KENYA AND THAILAND )

Not undermining tourism

He said the Government had taken into consideration issues raised by conservationists and viewed them against the views of its own experts before arriving at the decision.

"We are not undermining our tourism sector. To the contrary, we expect a boom from Thailand. Wakionja kidogo (when they taste it a little), they will want to see the animals in their natural habitat and in their thousands," he said.

Dr Mutua told reporters that the Government had considered the population of the species offered as gifts and the economic value Kenya stood to gain in making the decision.

"The animal list is made up of herbivorous animals. Endangered species such as lions, leopards, the rhino, elephants and others are not being given. We are giving them animals which we have plenty of," the spokesman said.

He gave a brief list of the numbers being considered for some of the prominent species included in the gift.

While Thailand will foot the cost of sending the animals to the Far East, Kenya Wildlife Service experts will oversee their relocation to ensure that the animals are comfortable in transit and in their new home in Thailand.

 

Kibaki under fire over wild animals deal

DAILY NATION, Nairobi
Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 11/11/2005

Outrage over the sale of Kenya's wildlife to Thailand grew yesterday with one prominent minister demanding that President Kibaki calls a Cabinet meeting to discuss the issue.

Other MPs urged President Kibaki to suspend the deal until Parliament reconvened to debate the sale.

Cabinet minister William ole Ntimama said such an important decision should not have been left to the President and the minister for Tourism.

"This is not a simple matter; it is a matter of international magnitude and an individual should not be left to make such a big decision alone," he said. 

And MP Mutula Kilonzo accused the President of taking Kenyans for granted.

Mr Ntimama, a minister of State, spoke out as visiting Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had to be smuggled past conservationists protesting at the deal, when he opened an exhibition at Nairobi's Village Market.

The conservationists were joined by members of local communities who carried placards complaining about the agreement, which will see 175 wild animals sold to a zoo in Thailand for an estimated Sh80 million.

Police had allowed the demonstrators, members of Youth for Conservation and the Kajiado Wildlife Conservation Network, to line up at the entrance after they promised to be peaceful. Dr Shinawatra was taken into the shopping mall through another entrance.

However, he came face-to-face with them and saw their placards as he left for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where the President saw him off at midday.

The Government spokesman, reacting to the row, issued a list of the animals earmarked for exports, which he said contained no endangered species like rhino, lions, leopards and cheetahs.

Instead, it was made up mostly of herbivores like gazelles, zebras and wildebeest, plus hippos and some birds.

The list, together with details of the deal were published on the Government's web site shortly after the Orange No-vote campaign team stepped into the row, saying the sale should be put on hold until after the referendum on the proposed Constitution. Then Parliament should approve or reject it.

The group, which brings together MPs from Kanu and the Liberal Democratic Party, condemned the export deal as "selling Kenya's heritage".

In a statement read by the No-team campaign chairman, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, the group said: "Our animals are as important as human beings. Parliament must approve this deal."

Mr Kilonzo accused President Kibaki of "taking Kenyans for granted" by signing the agreement without consulting the relevant institutions.

The nominated MP said the President had unprocedurally returned Amboseli National Park to Olkejuado County Council and was now "auctioning Kenya's wildlife".

"He is trying to wind up the country," he said. 

Mr Kilonzo, who was accompanied by MPs Reuben Ndolo (Makadara) and William Omondi (Kasarani), asked people to oppose the decision.

And addressing a No campaign rally in Narok Town yesterday, Mr Ntimama said he "smelt a rat" because the communities surrounding game reserves were not consulted.

He demanded to know who would benefit from the money from the sale, and describing the deal as shoddy, he said it was likely to join a "catalogue of illegalities and scandals" in the Narc Government.

Kenyans must be told in a transparent and candid manner details of the deal, the minister said. 

He added one of the main reasons the Orange movement was opposed to the proposed Constitution was because of the massive powers vested in the President to do as he wished. 

Mr Ntimama said the President was misusing his powers by taking unilateral decisions, which affected the whole country.

The President should say from which national reserve the animals would be taken and how the local communities would benefit.

The move, he added, could impact on income from tourism from the Far East because some potential visitors would instead choose to see the animals in Thailand. And Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, who accompanied Mr Ntimama, said that there was no way the President could make such a big decision without convening the Cabinet. 

It emerged yesterday that the 175 animals to be taken to Thailand, apart from attracting visitors to the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo, will also be used for research.

It was, however, not clear what kind of research they would be used for, because all the Thai authorities said was that they wanted to learn from Kenya's experience on how to take care of wildlife.

The animals will be shipped to Thailand on a date they would not disclose.

The prime minister and his government spokesman Mr Surapong Suebwonglee seemed to be pained by claims they had bought the animals. 

The money given out – which they did not disclose but is believed to be Sh80 million – would be used to create a fund to promote research, they said.

Dr Shinawatra was the first to defend his government's decision, saying the animals were meant for joint research between the two countries.

He denied his government had bought the animals because Kenya's wildlife was not for sale.

Kenya had plenty of animals, which he said could be sent for good care and research in Thailand, instead of being culled when their numbers became too high.

Dr Shinawatra said the joint research would be beneficial to both states because they were both developing countries.

He said: "We've not come here to buy wildlife. We are engaged in a joint effort where instead of culling your excess wildlife, you send the animals to us for joint research because if we undertake joint research, it will benefit both of us".

Reported by David Mugonyi, Muriithi Muriuki and Patrick Nzioka

 

Kenya Defends Wildlife Deal with Thailand

KENYA: November 11, 2005 

NAIROBI - Kenya defended plans to export 175 wild animals to a Thai zoo that enraged conservationists, saying on Thursday it would help attract tourists from the Asian nation. 

During a visit this week by Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Kenya agreed to ship the beasts more than 7,000 km (4,350 miles) to jumpstart a tourism project in the Asian leader's home town. 
Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the move would boost tourism also in the east African country. 

"We expect the number of tourists from Thailand will double or triple if they see the animals," he said. "They will want to see them in their natural surroundings." He said Kenya will get technical help and training on wildlife management in return, and denied media reports the Thai government paid up to $1 million for the exotic creatures. 

"The government of Thailand is not paying one cent or one shilling for these animals," Mutua told reporters in Nairobi. 

No date has been set for the animals' departure, he added. 

The exotic creatures include giraffes, buffaloes, flamingos and gazelles, and while no rhinos or other endangered animals are involved, the move has angered conservationists. 

"This stinks very, very badly," Kenyan environmentalist Richard Leakey told Reuters. 

"Collecting wild animals for export to zoos is deplorable, but the government has made this decision without any reference to the experts. It is mayhem and it is utterly disgusting." 

Leakey, who headed the Kenya Wildlife Service between 1989 and 1994, questioned whether conditions would be adequate at the zoo, which is due to open in April in Thaksin's home town Chiang Mai. 

"Zoos are very poor places generally," Leakey said.

PROTESTS 

Thaksin, who was on a three-day official visit in Kenya, flew to the Masai Mara game reserve on Wednesday to watch elephants, lions and zebra roam the grassy savannah. 

"There is a lot of misunderstanding here," he told reporters on Thursday during a visit to an upmarket Nairobi shopping mall. 

"If you go (to Chiang Mai) you will understand it better and you will see, and those who criticise and attack without knowing will feel sorry about what they have said." 

Outside the mall, dozens of protesters including women in traditional Masai dress waved placards including: "Wild animals need freedom" and "Conservation not exploitation". 

"We are here because we want to protest and stop the exportation of our beloved wildlife," said Peter Londesati a Masai elder from Kajiado district, in Kenya's Rift Valley. 

"We as the community are not being consulted." 

Thailand has come under fire for its poor wildlife protection record, and remains one of the world's leading trafficking routes for animal smugglers, with several privately owned zoos accused of illegally obtaining orang-utans and other rare species. 

(Additional reporting by Wangui Kanina in Nairobi)

Story by Daniel Wallis 

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE 

Link: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/33416/story.htm

 

 
Members of the Maasai community and conservation activists who turned up outside the Village Market in Nairobi to protest the selling of wildlife to Thailand.

Thai Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra was the guest at the Thailand Exhibition at the shopping mall.

Pic by Maxwel Agwanda

 

Outrage over pact giving 175 animals to Thailand

Standard, Nairobi
Friday November 11, 2005

Standard Team

Outrage greeted the signing of a pact giving Thailand 175 Kenyan wild animals, with a minister calling for an urgent Cabinet meeting to discuss the matter.

Mr William Ntimama, of the Office of the President, said such a "monumental" decision should not have been made unilaterally by the President. "This is not a simple matter and I am calling on the President to convene an urgent Cabinet meeting to discuss it."

The minister was addressing journalists at Mai Mahiu before attending campaign rallies in Narok Town and Ololua Township.

Conservationists, members of communities living near the game reserves and other politicians also protested at the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the two countries, even as the Governments of both Kenya and Thailand tried to reassure them.

Following the signing of the memorandum on Wednesday — witnessed by President Kibaki and Thailand Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra – Kenya will give the Asian country 175 animals for its Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo, set to be opened next week.

Yesterday, Dr Shinawatra, who is on a three-day State visit, said the agreement between the two countries was within the law.

The PM was speaking at Village Market in Nairobi, where he opened the Thai trade fair. Demonstrators who had gathered at the main entrance to the shopping centre to protest at the deal were disappointed after Shinawatra’s security team used a different entrance.

Once they learnt that he was already inside the premise, some stationed themselves along the way out. However, police took them away moments before the prime minister left.

The Government Spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, also defended the animal deal, saying it was only one of several memoranda the two governments had signed.

Mutua said the animals were taken from a rich habitat with more than 1.5 million animals and they would be taken to an open sanctuary in Thailand.

He also said that only herbivores would be taken away and not those in the endangered species’ list—lions, leopards, the rhino, elephant, among others.

But civic leaders from Olkejuado County Council warned the Government against giving away the animals, saying the move would deal a big blow to the Maasai community living around the game reserve.

"We will not negotiate over this and let them attempt and they will see the Maasai community in its true colours," said Mr Julius ole Ntayia.

And the Born Free Foundation asked the Government to make public details of the controversial pact.

The co-ordinator, Ms Alice Owen, said stakeholders were surprised that they were not consulted on the issue.

"We want to see the document. It is only when we see it and get the facts that we can take a position,’’ Owen said.

But she said they would be opposed to the removal of animals from their natural habitats.

Foreign Affairs minister Chirau Mwakwere on Wednesday gave a breakdown of the animals to be exported, saying it was not the first time Kenya was exporting animals.

But renowned conservationist Dr Richard Leakey has termed the decision a national shame.

The Orange campaign team demanded that Parliament debates the decision.

Nominated MP Mutula Kilonzo asked why President Kibaki was "in a hurry to wind up the country".

"Parliament should approve the sale. President Kibaki has given away Amboseli National Park and now it is our animals. Where will he stop? He could be winding up the country," said Mutula.

Last month, Amboseli National Park, which was gazetted as a national park in 1972 due to its delicate ecosystem, was handed over to Ol Kejuado County Council.

Yesterday, the Government, through Mutua, sought to justify the decision, saying Thailand is advanced in service delivery and handles over 12 million tourists every year compared to Kenya’s average 1.3 million.

He said the MoU was "to obligate" the two governments to comply with the movement of animals and the conservation of wildlife allowing Kenya to monitor their health.

The MoU is "open ended" allowing the Government of Kenya to monitor, through KWS, the health and progress of the 24 species of animals while in the foreign country.

"Thailand is not paying for any of the animals—this is a gift," said Mutua in his briefing.

He said the animals would be moved in bits "for observation purposes" and the costs would be met by Thailand.

Mutua added that the Kenya was "very pleased" signing the agreement because Kenya will "substantially" benefit from Thailand’s expertise in the management of parks.

Mutua said the Kenya Wildlife Service and Ministry of Tourism were involved in the negotiations preceded by site visits, and that a fund would be set up to care for the animals in Thailand.

"This is the most advanced translocation ever conducted in the world," he added.

And speaking at the Serena Hotel in the Masai Mara after touring the game reserve on Wednesday afternoon, Shinawatra said tourists from Thailand would continue to visit Kenya in spite of the deal.

http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news.php?articleid=32016

Update: 10.11.2005

Kenya to export wild animals to Thailand after all

Story by PATRICK NZIOKA
Publication Date: 2005/11/10

Kibaki and Thailand Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra inspect a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Army at State House, Nairobi, yesterday

Photo by Fredrick Onyango

The controversial deal to export more than 130 animals to Thailand was finally signed yesterday.

The deal was sealed despite protests from local and international animal conservation groups opposed to the sale.

President Kibaki and Thai Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding which will see Kenya sell 135 animals, including some on the endangered list, to Thailand in exchange of an estimated Sh80 million. The money is expected to be used in the management of rogue elephants.

The wildlife management agreement is part of a communique signed before Dr Shinawatra left for a tour of the Maasai Mara game reserve.

The agreement sets the stage for the transfer of the animals to be settled on the 1.3 square kilometre Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo, which is expected to host an additional 1,700 game from Thailand's own national parks and 40 from Australia.

Among the animals to be exported are topi, elands, waterbucks, impala, grants and Thompson's gazelle. Others are wildebeests, dik dik, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, serval cats, buffalos, hippos, kudus and gerenuks.

But it is the export of white and black rhinos, lions, leopards and cheetahs which has sparked protests from animal conservationists who believe they may be unsuited to Thailand's tropical climate. Majority of the animals are found in the savanna. 

There are only 600 white and black rhinos in Kenya and less than 30,000 lions in Africa today. Both animals are not yet on the list of endangered species despite efforts by Kenya to have them included. 

The Thai government has requested for 20 lions and at least two white rhinos for the zoo located in the the Prime Minister's home region of Chiang Mai. The zoo is expected to cost in excess of Sh215.5 billion. 

Apart from the zoo, the project will also feature an elephant park, an aquarium, a spa, shopping complex, resort-style hotel, decorative garden and an amusement park, among other facilities which are aimed at boosting the country's tourism.

The transfer of the animals in exchange of financial assistance followed a request by Dr Shinawatra when President Kibaki visited Thailand in October last year.

Yesterday's agreement was signed at State House, Nairobi, by Tourism minister Morris Dzoro and his counterpart in charge of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr Yongyut Tiyapairat.

Mr Tiyapairat is in a delegation led by Dr Shinawatra, who leaves the country today after a three-day State visit, mainly tied to the animals deal.

The black and white rhinos, which are in the export list, are protected under the CITES Convention as a result of their dwindling numbers.

Their number has reduced from 20,000 in the 1970s and the current 600 are mostly found in private sanctuaries to protect them from poachers. The species were almost wiped out in the 1990s following rampant poaching in Kenya's national parks.

Other animals in the export list, including lions and cheetahs as well as elephants, have been declining in numbers as a result of a thriving bushmeat trade. For example, Nairobi National Park has about 8 lions currently, down from about 30 in the 1990s.

While the cats may not be eaten, conservationists say they fall victim to indiscriminate traps set up for species that produce meat.

According to the Bangkok Post, the chairman of the government committee in charge of the Chiang Mai Night Safari project, Plodprasop Suraswadi Suraswadi, shrugged off criticism from wildlife conservationists who expressed concern over the plight of the animals. 

He said Thailand did not beg for the animals, thereby lending credence to reports that they were paying for them, contrary to reports by the Kenya Government.

Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi has been quoted denying that the Kenya Government had promised the Thais animals in exchange of financial assistance.

Yesterday's agreement is likely to heighten criticism from conservationists who have renewed their petition to President Kibaki to reject the request because it was not in Kenya's interest. 

When the lobbyists got word the prime minister would be in the country for three days, they marched to Mr Dzoro's office to seek clarification on the matter.

They are questioning how animals captured from the wild can be confined in a zoo.

The minister however refused to see them saying he can only do that on Monday. By then Mr Shinawatra will have left the country with the agreement.

He departs for Turkey today at 11 am after officially opening a Thai trade exhibition at the Village Market, Nairobi.

The signing of the agreement caught conservationists by surprise as they did not anticipate it was part of the PM's programme.

They asked the Government to make the MOU details public because wildlife was Kenya's heritage.

Youth for Conservation boss Josephat Ngonyo said conservationists were shocked the Government went ahead and signed the agreement despite the opposition it had elicited.

He said: "Kenyans need to be consulted and be told what kind of partnership this is and whether it involves the translocation of our wildlife."

International Fund for Animal Welfare communications officer Elizabeth Wamba said if the agreement includes transferring the animals, then it is sad for the country to sign such a deal without consulting the public because of its implications for future generations.

She said: "It's unfortunate we have not heard the Government seeking the views of Kenyans although future generations will bear the brunt of such an action."

Born Free Foundation also asked the Government to make the details of the memorandum public.

The Regional Spokesperson Alice Owen said they will raise the issue with the minister at a meeting slated for Monday.

Mr Dzoro could not be reached as he had accompanied the prime minister to Maasai Mara while the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said they needed time to study details of the agreement.

 

Kibaki signs away 175 animals to Thailand

10th Nov. 2005

Standard Team and PPS

Thailand Prime Minister, Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, and Information minister, Raphael Tuju, during lunch break at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve yesterday. Earlier, President Kibaki had signed a pact that will see Kenya export 175 wild animals to Thailand.

Pic by Govedi Asutsa

President Kibaki and Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shanawatra yesterday witnessed the signing of a pact by their Foreign Ministers, which will see Kenya export 175 wild animals to the Asian state.

The two leaders witnessed the signing ceremony at State House, Nairobi, before Thaksin, described as a lover of animals, flew to Maasai Mara National Park to sample Kenya’s wildlife.

Signing on behalf of Kenya was Foreign minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere, who later argued that the numbers and species involved were negligible given the population of animals in Kenya’s game reserves and national parks.

Thailand’s Foreign minister, Dr Kantathi Suphamongkhon, signed the Memorandum on behalf of his country, which drew prompt condemnation from conservationist.

Former Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) director, Dr Richard Leakey, said he was shocked that the Government could accede to such a request.

"To export wildlife to a zoo is a completely deplorable action. It is complete bankruptcy of Government,’’ Leakey said.

He said he was greatly ashamed that Kenya could sell its image for such a small figure touted to be US$500,000 (Sh37.5 million). Mwakwere said the agreement involved relocation of wildlife from Kenya to Thailand, a process he said was not "dangerous and impossible" as claimed by a section of activists who had demanded transparency on the plan on Tuesday.

"This is not a dangerous affair at all. The total number of animals to be relocated over a period of time will be 175 from 25 different species. We have done it before although it was a discreet process. It is not harmful, neither will it interfere or kill our tourism," he added.

"It is far much better to relocate a small number of animals to Thailand than to resort to culling and shooting in the country because even the eco-system they are in has become too small." The agreement also offers a wide range of beneficial exchange programmes between Thailand and Kenya, through ministries.

The memorandum was, however, silent on the animals-for-aid deal except a one liner reference in clause 11: "The two sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Park and Wildlife Management"

Mwakwere gave some of the species and numbers of animals to be carted away and the existing stock as follows:

* Six African Buffaloes out of a population of 90,000

* Three Masai giraffes out of a population of not less than 4,000 in Kenya.

* Fifteen Common Zebras out of the current population of 50,000.

* Six warthogs to be relocated out of a population of 15,000.

* Twenty Flamingos out of a population of not less than one million.

* Six dik-diks out of a population of not less than 10,000

* Ten impalas out of not less than 40,000.

* Three jackals out of a population of 2,000.

* Four crested cranes out of not less than 2,000.

* Six Marabou storks out of 10,000.

* Six spotted hyenas out of 5,000.

* Eight Thomson’s gazelles out of 30,000.

* Four hippopotamuses out of a total of 10,000.

Mwakwere also disclosed that Kenya had donated more wildlife in the past.

"There are zoos in America and Dubai. Where do you think the wildlife came from?’’ he asked.

He added: "It is just that the process has been discreet in the past, but there is nothing wrong with the relocation. The activists should try and find out first, the details of the relocation before protesting over details they have not read, " he argued.

Mwakwere said the process did not translate into depopulation because the "donations are so small compared to the overwhelming number we have back in the country, which is already a threat.’’

The agreement, he said, translates to the establishment of a joint commission for bilateral co-operation in the field of Parks and Wildlife Management.

Through the same programme, Mwakwere said, all government ministries would be free to come up with documentation that would specify areas of interest to facilitate exchange of lecturers, students and other forms of expertise.

But though Mwakwere said the animals won’t be leaving the country soon, the Thai media is already teeming with stories of the grand display of the Kenyan game on November 16 when a Safari Park organised by the Prime Minister in his home village of Chiang Mai opens. This has led to speculation that the animals could be airlifted anytime.

Mwakwere said no single elephant would be relocated in the process, which is estimated to take several months. Also missing out on the list is the pride of Kenya’s parks: lions, leopards, rhinos and cheetahs.

"The process will not start immediately. It will be in phases and will also be slow. First of all, there has to be preparations and statistics have to be put in the right perspective," said Mwakwere.

Clause four of the joint communiquÈ later circulated to media houses by the Presidential Press Service read: "The two leaders lauded the warm bond of friendship and co-operation existing between Kenya and Thailand. They reiterated their commitment to strengthening and deepening bilateral relations through mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation.’’

International media recently quoted top Thai government officials saying the visit would culminate in the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would see Kenya government export 300 wild animals to Chiang Mai Night Safari Park.

"There will be a signing of an agreement on that (Wildlife)," confirmed a Thai official, who added, "There will also be an agreement on setting up a joint trade commission."

Trade minister Mukhisa Kituyi and Tourism PS Rebecca strongly refuted the reports.

The premier jets out of the country today. He led high-ranking Thai officials including Deputy Prime Minister and Trade minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, Natural Resources Minister Yongyut Tiyapairat, Deputy Minister of Commerce Preecha Laohapongchana and Dr Suphamongkhon.

Currently, trade volumes between the two countries stands at Ksh7.4 billion, but Kenya’s exports are minimal.

President Kibaki briefed the Thai premier on the incentives and investment opportunities in Kenya’s processing zones, which would give them access to the East African Community and Comesa markets.

http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news.php?articleid=31968

 

Kenya-Thailand zoo deal draws fire

Plan to ship 175 animals to Chiang Mai called 'utterly disgusting'

Thursday, November 10, 2005 Posted: 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) -- Kenya defended plans to export 175 wild animals to a Thai zoo that enraged conservationists, saying on Thursday it would help attract tourists from the Asian nation.

During a visit this week by Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Kenya agreed to ship the beasts more than 7,000 km (4,350 miles) to jumpstart a tourism project in the Asian leader's home town.

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the move would boost tourism also in the east African country.

"We expect the number of tourists from Thailand will double or triple if they see the animals," he said. "They will want to see them in their natural surroundings." He said Kenya will get technical help and training on wildlife management in return, and denied media reports the Thai government paid up to $1 million for the exotic creatures.

"The government of Thailand is not paying one cent or one shilling for these animals," Mutua told reporters in Nairobi.

No date has been set for the animals' departure, he added.

The exotic creatures include giraffes, buffaloes, flamingos and gazelles, and while no rhinos or other endangered animals are involved, the move has angered conservationists.

"This stinks very, very badly," Kenyan environmentalist Richard Leakey said.

"Collecting wild animals for export to zoos is deplorable, but the government has made this decision without any reference to the experts. It is mayhem and it is utterly disgusting."

Leakey, who headed the Kenya Wildlife Service between 1989 and 1994, questioned whether conditions would be adequate at the zoo, which is due to open in April in Thaksin's home town Chiang Mai.

"Zoos are very poor places generally," Leakey said.

Thaksin, who was on a three-day official visit in Kenya, flew to the Masai Mara game reserve on Wednesday to watch elephants, lions and zebra roam the grassy savannah.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding here," he told reporters on Thursday during a visit to an upmarket Nairobi shopping mall.

"If you go (to Chiang Mai) you will understand it better and you will see, and those who criticize and attack without knowing will feel sorry about what they have said."

Outside the mall, dozens of protesters including women in traditional Masai dress waved placards including: "Wild animals need freedom" and "Conservation not exploitation".

"We are here because we want to protest and stop the exportation of our beloved wildlife," said Peter Londesati a Masai elder from Kajiado district, in Kenya's Rift Valley.

"We as the community are not being consulted."

Thailand has come under fire for its poor wildlife protection record, and remains one of the world's leading trafficking routes for animal smugglers, with several privately owned zoos accused of illegally obtaining orangutans and other rare species.

Copyright 2005 Reuters.

Link: http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/11/10/kenya.thailand.reut/

 

Game export: It is a national shame, declares Leakey

STANDARD, Nairobi
10. Nov. 2005

By Joseph Murimi

Former Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) director, Dr Richard Leakey, yesterday said he was shocked that the Government could export its game to a foreign country.

"To export wildlife to a zoo is a completely deplorable action. It is complete bankruptcy of Government,’’ Leakey said.

He said he was ashamed that Kenya could sell its image for such a small figure touted to be around US$ 500,000 (Sh37.5 million). He described the move as a big blow to KWS and Kenya’s tourism industry that is showing signs of recovery.

He claimed in the last two years the Government has systematically destroyed KWS’s capacity to operate as an independent body.

Leakey cited the Amboseli fiasco where the national park was downgraded to a national reserve and handed over to Kajiado County Council.

"First it was Amboseli, now they want to sell Kenya’s image. I am shocked, it is pathetic, it is a sad day for Kenya,’’ Leakey said on telephone.

He said there were few countries that support the capture and breeding of animals in a zoo.

Transportation of animals to a different climatic zone, he argued, meant most of them would die and those that survive would be subjected to suffering.

Leakey said his friends could raise for the Government the money it was getting from the deal if it was broke.

The Parliamentary Committee on Finance, Trade and Tourism said it had no details on the deal and would be seeking audience with the Tourism minister.

The chairman Mutahi Kagwe however said it would be difficult to fathom mass export of animals.

http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news.php?articleid=31973

 

Update: 09.11.2005

November 9, 2005

Come clean on the Thai wildlife deal

The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, is in the country for a three-day state visit. This is the first time the Prime Minister is visiting Kenya in what has been hailed as a move to strengthen economic ties between Thailand and Kenya.

It is also a grand opportunity to correct the trade imbalance between the two countries. Already, trade volumes between the two countries have reached Sh7.4 billion, but Kenya’s exports to Thailand are minimal.

No doubt, there will be important matters of trade between the two countries discussed during the visit. But one thing rankles… the issue of animal exports to Thailand.

Late last year, President Mwai Kibaki made a trip to Thailand. During the visit, the President reportedly sanctioned the exportation of 300 animals valued at a million US dollars to go to a wildlife mutual fund. The animals were supposed to stock the Chian Mai Night Safari Park, which will be opened next week. The Thai media was already reporting on Monday that the prime minister’s visit to Kenya was a welcome boost for the park and that Kenya had agreed to provide Thailand with 135 African wild animals.

Thai officials have also been quoted saying that Kenya had officially notified them that it would sign a memorandum of understanding with Thailand on the matter.

Observers believe that the visit is closely linked to the deal. But the Government has already denied that there exists such a deal. So who is mistaken here? The world media reporting about the deal or those who deny that such a thing exists?

Wild animals are core to Kenya’s tourism. They are our national heritage. Anything touching on them; their culling, their export or their translocation, is something that would interest many Kenyans. It is therefore imperative that the Government comes clean on the deal. If it does not exist, then it should clear the misconception already taking root that it does. If it indeed exists, then the Government should be open about it. The public has a right to know for what reason the Government would sell a national resource.

Link: http://www.eastandard.net/hm_news/news_s.php?articleid=31885 

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2  News and Updates  08.11.2005 - 13.12.2005

Latest Updates  14.12.2005 - today!

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