Jumbo Jangles

Jumbo Jangles

eleClarity on how badly elephants may be declining is at hand. Wednesday scientists began the “2017 Selous-Mikumi Large Mammal Census” which will be conducted over a huge area of nearly 43,000 sq. miles in central Tanzania.

It will be the first such careful animal census of the area since 2014 but more importantly will help determine the much debated viability of the “Great Elephant Census (GEC)”, which tore through the continent a year ago. One of the great criticisms of that inflammatory report was precisely that it ignored areas that the current census will now sample.

Why believe this one?

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Insecure Fantasies

Insecure Fantasies

studentfacesYou’re still overly cautious, I won’t say afraid, of going to Africa, right? Because you’re worried about insecurity, violence. Of course. You’ve heard or seen on TV those face-capped terrorists that go into schools and offices and shoot things up, right? OK.

Are you afraid to go to Spokane? How about Rockford? Memphis? Philadelphia, New Orleans, Clovis, Plano, Inglewood, Sacramento, Evansville, Gainesville?

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Egads Ibec

Egads Ibec

IEBCSystem 1. Candidates 0. That’s how I see the current Kenyan situation, characterized by the most juvenile behavior of the presidential candidates imaginable atop a system that is working overtime for fairness.

Perhaps this is true worldwide. Perhaps when touched by the power bestowed on a poor man by its great society, untold richest tempt his psyche. This is precisely the case in Kenya, where both presidential candidates are acting like bulldogs not potential leaders.

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End Hunting

End Hunting

chargingeleLast month British Columbia joined a slowly growing list of governments when it banned big game hunting (of brown bears). The trend is clear and provocative. In Africa it has nearly led to civil war.

Nothing is as contentious in the challenged world of conservation as hunting. Although the majority of any population seem to have no strong opinions about it, the minorities’ strong opinions are fierce.

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Kenyan Conundrum

Kenyan Conundrum

courtannulselectionDiplomats and experts alike are hailing Kenya’s Supreme Court for its decision Friday annulling the national elections as proof that this dynamic emerging nation has firmly sided on the rule of law.

I see it differently: another example that democracy is growing self-destructive. With opposition candidates already declining to take part in the announced election rerun, the chances for widespread violence and major political disruption are now greater than ever.

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Michigan Plasticity

Michigan Plasticity

kenya plastic bagYesterday Kenya joined 40 other countries doing something the whole world — except Michigan — will likely soon be doing: ban plastic bags.

Significantly, Kenya’s law is the most wide-ranging and punitive of them all. Violators can be fined up to $38,000 and jailed for four years. Visitors to emerging nations are not surprised at the move, but they are often surprised when they understand the reasons.

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Renewable Discards

Renewable Discards

kenyastraussrenewableSo simple it’s embarrassing: why didn’t Horton’s America think of this: make a solar panel and a roof one and the same. A wholly Kenyan company now does.

Uninhibited by aging conglomerates Africa is streaking past the western world: iPhone clones at $100 each, bricks manufactured at a thousandth of the cost in Tennessee, and now self-contained energy homes. And it’s not just because labor is less expensive. It’s because imaginations aren’t tethered to the Big and Mighty.

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Doubling Down

Doubling Down

money to mugabeI’d love to get a hold of Donald Trump’s Christmas Card list. You can probably name some of the addresses: Philippines, Venezuela and for Africa, Zimbabwe of course. There are more but what’s interesting is that with the exception of North Korea, the leaders of these craziest states all like Trump.

And Donald Trump likes them.

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Desertification

Desertification

raila in the desertI walked off the charter aircraft in front of my guests, our yellow-vested escort so close he kept bumping me. He stared straight ahead, walked stiffly and unnaturally fast towards the terminal building, more concerned with getting out of the open than showing us the exit.

That was Wednesday, the day after the election. Nairobi was as tense as a strand of cashmere nuked in a microwave. Today the city is nearly back to normal. As nations around the world drop into either the “crazy-and-dangerous” category or the “sane-and-hopeful,” Kenya has demonstrably shown it’s in the latter.

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OnSafari: Lucy’s Future

OnSafari: Lucy’s Future

kenya and lucyWe had a Maasai guide for our final days in Kenya. There are about 500 guides in Kenya’s best game park, the Maasai Mara. Only three are women: “our” Lucy was one.

Two days after national elections, results have yet to be announced but the country looks increasingly like it will accept the outcome peacefully. Lucy won’t be the only beneficiary of peace. In 8 of Kenya’s 47 counties (comparable to our states) provisional results give governorships to women.

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OnSafari: Nairobi Simmers

OnSafari: Nairobi Simmers

KenyaelectionUnusually, we chartered from Kenya’s best game park directly into the international airport rather than normally into a smaller airport across town to avoid having to make that transfer.

We’re hunkered down in a new hotel inside the secure international airport complex waiting for our evening departures to Europe. Violence so far is only in the west of the country, but even here the tension is palpable.

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OnSafari: Election Day

OnSafari: Election Day

ktn1Incredibly punishing rains fell last night. Lightning kept the night alive as if it were a fire. Water fell into the wee hours and ended with a cold wind that continues to blow under overcast skies.

It’s election day in Kenya. You need to pay attention. No country’s problems will be solved within their own borders, anymore. No matter where in the world you live, the frustrations you feel are likely global; solutions must be global. You’ve got to understand the rest of the world, even if you never leave home.

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OnSafari: Best Fare

OnSafari: Best Fare

Kibera2007Riding cabs in Nairobi isn’t fun.  Traffic is unbelievable. You really get to know your cabbie.

Mine said he worked right through the last two elections. I didn’t believe him. I’d spoken to other cabbies, hotel workers, airport staffers – none plan on going to work August 8, the next election.  He caught my wry smile in his rear view mirror and shouted, “I will!” then told me why.

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Democratic Flames

Democratic Flames

flamesofdemocracyKenya’s August 8 national election will test democracy as never before, anywhere in the world. Kenya’s incredible tribalism and its new found intellectualism are being force-blended into a modern world that just so happens at this very moment in human history to be questioning the very worth of democracy.

I think it will make it. Others aren’t so sure.

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