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Article 603: July 2009: July - Sept: Gnu migration at its best!
Migrations in Masai Mara
...every year staring from the early July to late September, over a million Gnus (wildebeests) and Zebras followed by the big cats cross over the rolling plains of the Masai Mara setting the most spectacular marvel of mother nature that cannot be witnessed in any other part of the world. This undoubtedly becomes
the best times to visit Kenya. There is no better time to visit the Mara than during the Great Migration. The sound of the approaching herd is a deep, primal rumbling of thundering hooves and low grunts. The sight of the wildebeest is staggering- a continuous charging mass that stretches from one horizon to the other this endless grey river of life is mottled with black and white as zebras join the throng.

Over the course of the migration, visitors to Kenya will have the opportunity to follow the progress of the herds and experience the full grassland cycle firsthand. In the Maasai Mara, Africa’s largest concentrations of predators are drawn to this perfect opportunity for easy hunting. Lions are frequently seen attacking the herds - especially at night- dragging down straggling individuals.

At the same time, packs of Hyena freely weave throughout the herds, singling out and separating the young and the weak. Predators are not the only obstacles that the wildebeest face. Kenya’s heavy rainfall in the highland Mau escarpment has turns the Mara River into a raging torrent.

As happens each year, the herds will gather at the banks in preparation for the most perilous stretch of their journey. As sheer pressure builds, the herds are finally forced to surge into the river, often hurling themselves off high banks. In the struggle across the Mara River, many are drowned or swept away by strong currents. The crossing attracts massive crocodiles who each year awaits this season of bounty.

By September the herds will begin reaching their goal, and spreading out to graze across the expanse of the Mara. For this beautiful game reserve, it is a time of renewal, as the dung from the visiting herds fertilizes the plains. October will see the herds turn southward and repeat the same journey back to the Serengeti, where the renewed grasslands await.

The Migration is the planet’s last great epic of life and death. Of all the calves born in the Serengeti, two out of three will never return from their first and most demanding migration. It is this inextricable binding of renewal and sustenance, feast and famine, life and death that makes this event one of nature’s greatest wonders.

Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve has a wide range of accommodation and travel options. There are luxury lodges, exclusive tented camps, campsites and more available. The migration can be experienced on early morning game drives in customized vehicles, walking safaris with Maasai Warrior guides, horseback safaris in areas surrounding the Mara, or even from hot air Balloon safaris over the herds. See Kenya Wildlife Migration Safari Offer >>

Article 602: May 2009: Virgin boss on a mission to sell Kenya
Richard Branson
Virgin Atlantic has rolled out a Sh30 million advertising campaign to woo UK tourists back to Kenya. The drive, which begins today, will be used as an initiative to get tourists back to Kenya, and focuses on the migration of the wildebeest. Virgin Atlantic president, Sir Richard Branson, gave Kenya a clean bill of health and vowed
to help the country get back on track and increase tourist numbers. "Kenya is a fantastic and safe place to come. We need to get tourism back on track," he said. The campaign will appear on London’s underground mainline railway, as well as the national Press.

Branson made the announcement at Sarova Mara Game Camp at the Maasai Mara on Saturday. Tourism minister, Mr Najib Balala, has said Branson’s tour was a clear indication that Kenya was back on the recovery path. Branson regretted that post-election violence was a major setback to tourism, especially the airline industry.

"The violence was disastrous to the airlines, hotels and to the people of Kenya. Virgin was also affected, but we decided to be faithful to Kenya and not switch to other routes," he said. Branson, however, warned that the airline would pull out of the Kenyan route should violence erupt again. "If politicians mess the country again, we will not stick here. We will move out," he said.

According to Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), tourism earned Sh8 billion between January and April, way below the expected Sh21 billion. KTB Chairman, Mr Jakes Grieves Cook, expressed optimism that the tourist arrivals would improve.

Virgin Atlantic is one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines and flies daily to Nairobi. It flies to 30 destinations worldwide from its headquarters at London Heathrow and London Gatwick. The aviation industry will get a boost as Branson re-launches the Nairobi-London route with the introduction of another aircraft, which will also mark the airline’s first anniversary.

A delighted Kenya Tourist Board Managing Director, Dr Achieng Ong’ong’a, said Branson’s visit was a blessing. "He came at a time we really needed someone of his stature to send a message to the world that Kenya is back to normal," Ong’ong’a said.

On Saturday, Branson opened two dormitories at Sekenani Primary School, a co-ed institution at the Maasai Mara, built by the airline at a cost of Sh8 million. The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold Card volunteers collectively contributed £30,000 from sponsorship and donations to the project. More On Richard Branson>

Article 601: April '08: Zanzibar Is. Could Disappear in 100yrs!
Indian Ocean Islands
Scientists believe that the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia are likely to disappear under water by 2100 due to a rise in sea level triggered by global warming. The islands off the Tanzania Mainland coast could be submerged in the ocean following a catastrophic rise in the sea level caused by the melting of polar ice.
Scientists revealed this startling information in Arusha during the official launch of the International Year of Planet Earth for Africa and a conference that followed.

They said the scenario was “very possible” because there were known cases of islands in the country which had since disappeared or were in danger of being submerged. This means that Tanzania could be among countries that would be hardest hit by climate change, a phenomenon associated with global warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

Islands known to have been submerged include Maziwi, near Pangani in Tanga Region, and Fungu la Nyani, on the Rufiji River estuary. Other gravely threatened sites are Ras Nungwi, at the northern tip of Zanzibar island, which has lost almost 100 metres of its beach to sea water, and Bongoyo and Mbudya islands near Dar es Salaam.

Mr Eric Mugurusi, the director of Environment Division in the Vice-President’s Office, says Tanzania has already started to feel the impact of climate change, and gave the example of the melting of the snowcap on Mt Kilimanjaro.

The experts were of the opinion that only “bold measures” could save Zanzibar and Mafia islands, which are among the leading tourist sites in the country.

“This period is not a long time at all especially for people who care much about the future of their grandchildren. That would depend on how we address global warming and climate change,” warned one of them.

“Our concern is not what would happen in 2100, but the gradual rise of sea level taking place now,” said a marine scientist who cited tourism, fisheries and mariculture as the economic sectors that would suffer most. The impact of sea level rise will be big because more that 25 per cent of Tanzania’s population is found along the coast.

In addition, Scientists say the icecap volume on Africa’s highest mountain has dropped by 80 per cent in the last 100 years; from 12.1 square kilometres in 1901 to only 2.2 square kilometres in 2000.

The loss, he said quoting experts, was most disturbing from 1970. Some scientists have predicted that the mountain may lose all its ice in 20 years’ time given the rate at which it is depreciating.

Mr Carlos Mbuta, a senior environmental management officer with the National Environment Management Council has, however, said that there were other factors behind the sea level rise.

On the Mt Kilimanjaro glaciers, the official explained that research carried out for 15 years by a German scientist indicated that out of every 1,000 tonnes of water from the mountain, 400 tonnes originated directly from the ice caps and the rest from the forest belt ... More About Tanzania>

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