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Kenyan conservationist wins Diane Skinner Unsung Hero in conservation award



Norah Njiraini, Director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Kenya, has been named this year’s winner of the prestigious Diane Skinner Award for Unsung Heroes in Conservation.

This is because of her lifetime of researching the elephants of Amboseli National Park and key role in protecting their habitats, resolving human-wildlife conflict, and coordinating conservation training programmes for local communities and students.

Norah, who lives in Amboseli National Park, was flown out to Kigali, Rwanda, where she accepted the award – a beautiful pangolin carved from Jacaranda wood by Zimbabwean artist Peter Jemwa – on stage in a memorable ceremony at the Business of Conservation Conference.

The Diane Skinner Award for Unsung Heroes in Conservation is sponsored by the Painted Wolf Foundation and African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation. It highlights, largely unrecognised, individuals from across Africa working tirelessly to conserve the continent’s wildlife and natural landscape, and helping local communities live harmoniously with their environment.

The award was created in honour of Diane Skinner, Executive Director of the Painted Wolf Foundation, who passed away from cancer last year.

She dedicated her life selflessly to conserving painted wolves and other endangered species and their habitats in Africa. She also advocated for collaborative approaches to conservation between governments and local communities.

While accepting the award, Norah said: “It is beyond my capability to adequately express how grateful I am with words alone. I want to express my gratitude to ALU and the Painted Wolf Foundation for the award that you have bestowed upon me. Elephants are in my blood, and I will continue to work to protect them.”

Growing up in the Kenyan town of Loitokitok, Norah often visited Amboseli National Park – a reserve spanning nearly 40,000 ha (392km²), crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, and home to a spectacular array of flora and fauna, including a population of some 1,500 African elephants.

Norah joined the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in 1985 as its first research assistant, studying the Park’s male elephants.

Now, serving as its Director, her responsibilities include carrying out daily family censuses, collecting data on group sightings, and recording births, mortalities, and behaviours of interest. She also liaises with government officials on cases of human-elephant conflict, and organises veterinarian care for injured elephants.

Norah Njiraini

Outside of research, Norah has helped educate today’s top elephant conservationists, and continues to inspire a new generation through a training programme she runs for students and local communities, sharing her own vast experience and expertise in elephant monitoring.

Sue Snyman, Executive Director of Research at ALU SOWC, said:“My heartfelt congratulations to Norah. She embodies the spirit of this award through her endless passion for protecting Africa’s beautiful wilderness, for helping people coexist harmoniously with nature, and for fostering the conservation leaders of tomorrow. She should be immensely proud of all that she has achieved.

“And with this award, we are also remembering the incredible work of Diane Skinner. I had the pleasure of working closely with Diane when she volunteered as a mentor for our students at the SOWC. She also gave a considerable amount of her time to consulting on our wildlife economy research efforts. Her dedication, passion, professionalism, humility and hard work were always inspiring.”

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County News

MPs decry delay of Mt Kenya projects



Two Members of the Parliament from the Mt Kenya region have raised concern over the delay in the completion of the Mau Mau link road.

Kangema MP Peter Kihungi and his Juja counterpart George Koimburi on Sunday asked Treasury to release funds for the completion of the road that links Murang’a, Kiambu, Nyeri and Nyandarua counties.

They said that in the recent supplementary budget, the amount allocated to the road was slashed from Sh280 million to Sh175 million.

They said the Jubilee administration had allocated the project Sh4.5 billion and substantial work had been done on the ground. Kihungi said road is of immense economic importance to the local community and the country. “Residents are very much concerned about the progress of the road.

The construction during the previous government was going on well and we are worried since in the current budget Sh280 million was allocated but when it came to the supplementary budget the money was cut by more than half to Sh175 million which can hardly do much,” said Kihungi. Koimburi (pictured) said they promised their people that the Mau Mau Road would be completed once the Kenya Kwanza government assumed office.

“We want to ask the Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen to ensure money is allocated for roads being done in Mt Kenya. Residents are eagerly waiting for completion of these roads which are expected to spur the local economy,” he said

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Kenya News

British soldier killed off duty in Kenya



A British soldier in Kenya passed away, after being attacked while off duty.

On November 29, UK Ministry of Defence reports that Maj Kevin McCool, 32, passed away.

In a statement released on Friday, the ministry stated that McCool “tragically died while off-duty” and did not disclose any more details regarding his death.

However, according to British media, he was attacked while riding a motorcycle off base.

According to the soldier’s father, who was cited by Sky News, McCool rode his bike away from the base in preparation for his tour of duty coming to an end in three days.

“He decided to go out on his scrambler motorbike for one last ride up a local mountain. He went up a road and two guys jumped out at him with a gun,” the father identified as Joseph told the broadcaster.

“It seems that he thought the gun was a dummy, he didn’t think it was real. He made the mistaken assumption that the gun was artificial, and they shot him.”

The Ministry of Defence states that McCool was stationed throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Falklands, and Africa after receiving his commission from Sandhurst in August 2014.

He was a “big family man” who was enjoyable to work with, according to the ministry.

“As well as a glittering operational record, he also aced many of the military’s hardest courses,” read an eulogy, “His fitness was legendary, once beating the whole Battalion on a two miler, as was his endurance. His enthusiasm was infectious.”

“He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, that made him tremendous fun to be with. Yet his professionalism and sense of purpose was paramount and clear to all those lucky enough to serve with him.”

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Ex-Uhuru PS decries state of JKIA, terms it ‘makeshift warehouse’



Former Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Macharia Kamau has expressed disapproval of the condition of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Macharia claimed in an X statement that it might be disheartening for visitors to JKIA, particularly those from affluent nations, to arrive after a journey overseas.

He claimed that once inside the airport terminal, which resembles a temporary warehouse, the situation only becomes worse.

The former PS said that getting into the terminal gives one the feeling of “living in the stone age” period.

“Sometimes one arrives home from an international trip, say from Dubai, and one looks out the window of the plane at the depressing & chaotic urban sprawl and then gets into the makeshift warehouse that is the terminal & one just wanna weep. It’s like we are still in the Stone Age,” Amb Macharia said.

His comments coincide with the discovery of a roof leak in one of JKIA’s recently rebuilt terminals.

Henry Ogoye, Managing Director of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), claims that throughout the past ten years, the airport’s facilities and infrastructure have not been adequately upgraded.

“…even temporary interventions became permanent solutions hence the current state of affairs in service disruptions,” he said.

He, however, said the government has commenced the process of addressing infrastructure development of the facility.

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