Kenya records a more than 96% decline in Elephant poaching

By Grace Kuria

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Sunday stated the country had recorded a near 96 percent decline in poaching, with more than 386 elephants being lost to poaching in 2013 compared to 11 elephants poached in 20202.

“Kenya’s national elephant population has gradually increased at an annual rate of approximately 2.8 percent over the last three decades,” KWS said in a statement.

This success, they say, is attributed to enhanced government initiatives to combat poaching and trophy trafficking and the continued collaboration with national and international partners to stop trade in ivory.

A picture taken on May 28, 2019 shows elephant feeding on scrub in the morning at Ol-Pejeta conservancy at Laikipia’s county headquarters, Nanyuki. – Ol-Pejeta, a private conservancy on Kenya’s Laikipia plateau that shelters, among other endangered giants, the only two northern white rhinos left anywhere on earth, launched what it calls the world’s first wildlife tech lab, that develops the latest technological weaponry to combat poaching. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

KWS was responding to a statement issued on March 2021, in which the African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) indicated two species, Forest and Savannah elephants, to have suffered stiff declines due to poaching, adding that poaching remains a primary threat to the conservation of the species.

“Whilst Kenya acknowledges that poaching was the major cause of decline in the past, increasing human population and the subsequent change in land tenure and land use systems have led to the constriction of elephant range, loss of dispersal areas and corridors, resulting to heightened interaction between elephants and people, mostly resulting to conflict.”

“Today, Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) and loss of elephant corridors and dispersal areas are the main challenges facing elephant conservation and management in Kenya,” KWS said.

KWS urged AfESG to make necessary corrections on the information released to the public to reflect efforts the country has made to reduce the impact of poaching on Kenya’s elephant population.

While also requesting that in future, Range States be consulted to provide their national perspectives when critical information is being released for public consumption.

Kenya’s 100m champion inches closer to Olympic qualification

By CGTN Africa

Kenya’s former national 100m champion Mark Otieno, is edging closer to qualifying for this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games after he shattered his personal best by 0.3 seconds during the All Comers Athletics Meet at the National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka on Saturday.

Mark Otieno during the national relay team morning training session at Nyayo stadium in Nairobi on May 07, 2019. The Kenya team will fly the national flag at the IAAF World Relay Championships set for Yokohama, Japan, on May 11-12, 2019./Twitter

Otieno clocked 10.19 seconds to win his 100m semifinal race before storming to victory in 10.11 seconds in the final.

That saw Otieno erase his previous personal best of 10.14 seconds when winning the national title in 2017.

Interestingly,  Ferdinand Omanyala also ran 10.11 sec during the National Relay Series on January 23 but it was judged to have been wind-assisted.

However, Omanyala finally downed the National Record on March 30 when he won his 100m during the Betking MoC Grand Prix at Yabatech Complex in Lagos.

The performance was enough to see Omanyala attain the Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying standards, beating the target of 10.05sec but his previous ban for doping violation locks him out.

This is after the government and Athletics Kenya moved to lock out any athlete who committed any doping offence from representing the country.

Athletics Kenya is yet to ratify Omanyala’s time from Nigeria but has written to Nigeria Athletics to provide the official results and doping tests results from the championships before they can ratify the record.

Otieno’s performance in Lusaka fell short of the Olympics qualifying time of 10.05 but the athlete will take another shot at the 200m on Sunday.

The qualifying standard is 20.24sec but Otieno has a season’s 20.86sec.

The qualifying period ends in June hence giving Otieno and other Kenyan sprinters more time to qualify for the Summer Games.

Sierra Leone receives Ebola vaccines to boost prevention

By XINHUA

BUTEMBO, CONGO – JULY 27: A healthcare member inoculates a man for Ebola suspicion to take precautions against the disease in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 27, 2019. (Photo by JC Wenga/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Sierra Leone has received 640 doses of Ebola vaccines to boost the prevention of the virus detected in its neighboring Guinea, said the health ministry on Saturday.

The vaccines, donated by the World Health Organization, will be mainly delivered to frontline healthcare workers in the border districts, it said.

The vaccine has been evaluated previously in Sierra Leone and proved to be safe and efficacious, the ministry said, adding that the country expects to receive another batch of 3,840 doses soon.

Given the broader use of the vaccine this time, a team of experts will monitor all those vaccinated for any serious adverse effects.

Comoros president receives injection of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

By XINHUA

Members of the Chinese medical aid team and local medical workers pose for a group photo at the launching ceremony of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Moroni, Comoros, April 10, 2021. Comoros President Azali Assoumani received on Saturday an injection of coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinopharm, which marked the start of the vaccination campaign in the African nation. (Photo by Qin Lixiu/Xinhua)

Comoros President Azali Assoumani on Saturday received an injection of a coronavirus vaccine produced by China’s Sinopharm, which marked the start of the vaccination campaign in the African nation.

“By launching the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in our country today, we are taking a new step in our strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. To set an example, I made a decision to be the first to take the vaccine,” President Assoumani said during the launch of the vaccination in the capital Moroni.

Assoumani also expressed his gratitude to China and South Africa which provided vaccines to Comoros.

“I would like to salute these gestures of humanity, solidarity and generosity which we fully appreciate and which constitute an opportunity for our country,” he added.

According to the head of state, the vaccines will be offered primarily to medical personnel, teachers, military and paramilitary forces, the elderly, and those with comorbidity.

A batch of COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies provided to Comoros by the Chinese government arrived in Moroni on March 15 with a Chinese medical aid team.

CAF Champions League: Al Ahly edges Simba, Sundowns loses unbeaten record

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Defending champions Al Ahly defeated Tanzanian giants Simba S.C. on Friday to finish the group stage of this season’s CAF Champions League with a victory.

The Egyptians won 1-0 in Cairo, thanks to a goal from Mohamed Sherif just after the half hour mark, exacting revenge for a similar defeat away in Tanzania earlier in the group stage.

FILE PHOTO: A picture of the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Champions League trophy. (Photo credit MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

Both teams had already qualified for the quarterfinals but the Tanzanians retained top spot in the group with 13 points followed by the record nine-time champions who had 11 points.

The other group game saw AS Vita Club of Democratic Republic of Congo also end their campaign on a high with a 3-1 home win to Al-Merreikh of Sudan.

AS Vita finished in third on seven points while Al-Merreikh finished fourth with two points.

Meanwhile 2016 champions Mamelodi Sundowns lost their unbeaten record of this campaign after suffering a 2-0 home loss in Pretoria to Algeria’s CR Belouizdad.

Sundowns, who finished with 13 points, had already been confirmed as winners of Group B while CR Belouizdad, who had also already booked their place in the knockout phase, ended with nine points.

Five-time winners TP Mazembe avoided the embarrassment of finishing bottom of the group after beating Al-Hilal Omdurman 2-0.

The win lifted the Congolese side up to third on five points while the Sudanese side dropped to fourth, a further point behind.

Two more places in the quarterfinals will be decided later on Saturday as four sides battle to progress from their respective groups.

Horoya AC of Guinea will play Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa in a winner-takes-all match in Group C. In Group D, one of the contenders, MC Alger will take on already-qualified Esperance while the other hopefuls, last season’s runners-up Zamalek will face Teungueth.

Kenya reports 279 people affected by the AstraZeneca vaccine

By CGTN Africa

Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) announced on Wednesday that 279 people reported suffering adverse effects after taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

“All reported serious AEFI [Adverse event following immunization] are under investigation and none of them has resulted into fatal outcomes,” the PPB said in a statement. “Out of the 279 reported cases, 272 were mild and resolved within a short period.”

Speaking during a press conference, Deputy Director of the PPB Peter Mbwiiri Ikamati,  said one person died from an adverse event following immunization.

But the PPB later recanted and said that “there was a misreporting of an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) as fatal.”

Meanwhile, The Ministry of Health Wednesday reported 1,523 people have tested positive for the virus from a sample size of 7,423.

Total positive cases are now 141,365 and cumulative tests conducted are 1,530,736 in the East African nation that has 52.5 million people.

A total of 616 patients have recovered from the disease bringing the number of recoveries to 97,194. Eighteen deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, all are late death reports from facility record audits. Cumulative fatalities stand at 2,276.

The Ministry of Health further announced that 339,893 people in Kenya have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine as of Tuesday — 99,084 are health workers, 27, 945 security officers, 45,877 teachers and 166,987 are other members of the public, including residents who are 58 years and older.

Kenya, U.S. hold talks on free trade agreement

By XINHUA

Betty Maina, Kenya’s cabinet secretary of Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, speaks at a past function. /@Trade_Kenya – Twitter

Kenya and the United States have held virtual talks on signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Betty Maina, Kenya’s cabinet secretary of Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development said in a statement on Thursday.

Betty Maina said that she discussed with Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative, following up on the FTA negotiations that have been going on since last year.

The two officials underlined the need for Kenya and the U.S. to be guided by a robust trade policy that will promote the mutual interests of the majority of the Kenyan and American people. “This will ensure that trade partnerships support the development agenda of the two countries, including creating jobs and promoting economic growth,” Maina said.

The negotiations for FTA which commenced on July 8, last year, stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent US elections. Two rounds of negotiations have been conducted so far.

The two countries said that they will explore a viable medium to long-term approach to their future trade relations in the context of the wider agenda of the U.S. trade and development of policy for Africa.

Tai requested Kenya to partner with the U.S. in developing this strategy and supporting the regional integration drive in Africa. The fate of trade talks remains uncertain as Washington realigns its interests under the new Biden administration.

Zimbabwe targets to achieve food security by 2022

By XINHUA

Zimbabwe is targeting to attain food security by 2022 and to increase household income by 100 percent by the year 2024, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said on Wednesday.

Apart from eliminating food imports that are resulting in a bloated import bill, the government is also targeting 40 percent value addition, to create about 1 million jobs and to increase total exports by 60 percent by the year 2024.

In addition, the government also aims to transform about 18,000 small-scale farmers into agricultural entrepreneurs by the year 2025, Masuka said.

The ambitious targets follow the launch of the Agriculture and Food security system Transformative Strategy (AFTSTS) last year with the aim of accelerating agriculture production, productivity and growth.

Speaking at the official launch of Zimbabwe’s 2021 tobacco marketing season in Harare, Masuka said the agricultural sector is one of the key sectors in Zimbabwe’s quest to achieve an upper-middle-income economy status by 2030.

In the tobacco sector, which is the second foreign currency earner after gold, Masuka said the government has developed a tobacco value addition transformation strategy to create a conducive environment for tobacco growers and the industry at large to boost output.

“This tobacco value chain transformation strategy enables the intensification of tobacco production by enhancing transparency and fair tobacco marketing, reform, restructuring and rebuilding of existing institutions in order to optimize tobacco value chain financing,” he said.

He said the strategy also seeks to promote value addition and to facilitate the production of alternative crops to tobacco to diversify revenues and assure industry sustainability in the face of climate change and anti-tobacco campaigns.

Meanwhile, this year Zimbabwe is anticipating a record maize harvest since the Land Reform Program of the early 2000s, with 2.8 million tonnes expected to be delivered to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Maize production declined significantly over the past years due to disturbances caused by the land reform program, heavily affecting the country’s capacity to meet its grain requirements.

In the 2020/2021 farming season, crop hectarage in the country increased by 23 percent partly driven by abundant rainfall received this season, early distribution of inputs and support of farmers by the government.

African Union drops plans to buy COVID vaccines from India’s SSI, pivots to J&J

By Reuters

The African Union has dropped plans to secure COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute of India for African nations and is exploring options with Johnson & Johnson, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

The institute will still supply the AstraZeneca vaccine to Africa through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, John Nkengasong told reporters, but the African Union would seek additional supplies from Johnson & Johnson.

The statement comes the day after European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between AstraZeneca’s vaccine and reports of very rare cases of brain blood clots, but they reaffirmed its importance in protecting people.

Nkengasong said the possible link had nothing to do with the African Union’s decision. The bloc of 55 member states shifted its efforts to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, he said, citing the deal signed last week to secure up to 400 million doses beginning in the third quarter of this year.

“…It was just a clear understanding of how not to duplicate efforts with the Serum Institute, so that we compliment each other rather than duplicate efforts,” he said.

Kenyan Supermarkets selling pork and chicken contaminated by superbugs, study warns

By Grace Kuria

Research released on Wednesday by World Animal Protection found high levels of contamination in many meat samples across Kenya.

The highest contamination was found in pork and chicken brands managed by supermarkets.

Dr. Victor Yamo, campaigns manager at World Animal Protection, said 95 percent of meat sold in supermarkets in Kenya contains drug-resistant bacteria, commonly known as superbugs.

Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi resistant to most antibiotics and other medications commonly used to treat the infections they cause.

“The results showed high prevalence of bacterial contaminants in both pork at 98.4 percent and poultry at 96.6 percent,” Yamo said.

The survey report said 187 pork samples and 206 chicken samples were collected from six supermarket chains in six counties, including Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Laikipia, Uasin Gishu and Nyeri.

“Some of these organisms might not cause disease in humans, but if you have salmonella, then there is the possibility of contamination. Of critical importance is that the disease they cause affects old and young people and sometimes can lead to death at a certain level,” said Dr. Yamo.

The report showed there is a direct correlation between how animals are treated and the quality of the end product. Dr. Yamo noted that misuse of antibiotics in the food chain is impacting on public health.

“We need to understand the interconnectivity of all this. For example, when people learn there is a problem with meat, they start buying vegetables, yet it is these vegetables that are used as feeds by some for the animals… In another 8 years, we will be doubling what we consume in terms of antibiotics and that is a worrying trend,” added Dr. Yamo.

The laboratory analysis was done at the Centre for Microbiology Research at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), between April 2020 and July 2020.

The study also revealed that 60 per cent of the meat in supermarkets was found to have superbugs, brought about by high usage of antibiotics to treat animals.

(With input from Agencies)