AirAsia Indonesia flight 8501 to Singapore missing

AirAsia Indonesia flight 8501 to Singapore missing

Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200 lost contact with air traffic control at 06:24 local time (23:24 GMT Saturday) over the Java Sea.

After flying for more than an hour, the Airbus disappeared midway into it’s two hour flight from Surabaya without a distress call. The pilot had requested a flight path change after bad weather was reported in the area. It appears that an air search operation has now been suspended for the night.

Since the disappearance, aircraft from Indonesia and Singapore had been scouring an area of sea between Kalimantan (Borneo) and Java. Despite the air search being called off, some boats are said to be continuing to search despite nightfall.

A few hours ago many of the relatives at the crisis centre in the airport still seemed calm – staring hopefully at their phones, trying to find the latest news of the missing flight as well as keeping friends and relatives up to date with any developments and trying to find comfort in the face of yet another impending disaster.

However, after more than 12 hours since the plane took off on it’s two hour flight, they are looking increasingly worried. Officials still have no idea what happened to the aircraft. The governor of East Java, Soekarwo, the mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, and the chief executive of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, have come to talk to the relatives at their airport to confirm they are frantically searching for the missing Flight QZ8501 however apart from this, there is no other information been given.

Airport officials are keeping everyone well away from the media and trying to make them comfortable.

The scenes at Changi are reminiscent of those in Kuala Lumpur immediately after MH370 went missing back in March 2014: anxious friends and relatives waiting for a glimmer of hope or simply just an answer.

AirAsia Indonesia flight 8501 to Singapore missing

The experienced captain of Flight QZ8501 had more than 20,500 flight hours, almost 7,000 of them with AirAsia.

The flight left Surabaya in eastern Java at 05:35 local time (22:35 GMT) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 (00:30 GMT).

AirAsia confirmed that the missing AirBus had requested a “deviation” from the flight path to avoid thick storm clouds.

Indonesia’s transport ministry said the pilot had asked permission to climb to 11,000m to avoid the storm however, Ministry official Djoko Murjatmodjo said the request “could not be approved at that time due to traffic, there was a flight above, and five minutes later [flight QZ8501] disappeared from radar”.

It is looking decidedly like the plan has gone down due to bad weather but we await for further news and can only hope cling to a small hope that the plane has landed.



The missing AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 is likely to be at the bottom of the sea, Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency has said based on the location of the flight when they lost contact with it.

The search for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared with 162 people on board on Sunday on a flight to Singapore from Surabaya City, has ended for a second day.

The search area will be widened on Tuesday.


This has been an extremely tough year for aviation in Asia: Malaysia’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines brutally suffered two losses with flights MH370 and MH17.

Flight MH370 disappeared without a trace while on a flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew. There is speculation that the wreckage is thought to be in southern Indian Ocean but it has has still not been located.

Meanwhile, we all remember the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines MH17 that was tragically shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

Karanja, the oldest black rhino in Maasai Mara dies at 43

Karanja, the oldest black rhino in Maasai Mara dies at 43

One of the oldest and most photographed black rhino in the world has died at Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

The 43-year-old rhino named Karanja had one of the longest horns in the world measuring 34 inches and weighing about nine kilogrammes. Karanja died on Wednesday of natural causes.

Karanja, the oldest black rhino in Maasai Mara dies at 43

The Kenyan Environment Cabinet Secretary, Judi Wakhungu reported that Karanja died at 11 am on Wednesday while its horns were removed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) veterinary officers.

His longer horn weighed five kilograms and the shorter one was three and a half kilograms.

Paul Kirui, the chairman of Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association said Karanja was very popular with tourists as he was never bothered by vehicles close by.

Mr Kirui said, “His trademark was the long pin-sharp horn,”

Pictures of the rhino taken by Lesinko ole Kool, a tour guide at the Fig Tree Camp in Maasai Mara show it died in a stream at the game reserve.

Karanja dead in a stream at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. PHOTO | COURTESY| LESINKO OLE KOOL

Karanja, the oldest black rhino in Maasai Mara dies at 43

The rhino was under constant surveillance by KWS rangers.

“Watching him a few days ago you could see he was really on his last days,” Mr Kirui said.

The body of the 43 year old rhino was taken to the National Museum of Kenya (NMK) for preservation where the skeleton of Ahmed, a giant bull elephant is also kept.

Conservationists in the 1970’s feared the elephant would be targeted by poachers for its huge tusks and advocated for its protection.

Kenya’s President, Jomo Kenyatta assigned two full time rangers to watch Ahmed day and night until he eventually died in 1974 at the age of 55.

Karanja survived all poaching attempts and was almost lucky to actually die of old age rather than by a poachers bullet. Mr Hersi congratulated KWS rangers for watching the rhino thus saving it from poachers.

Black rhinos have been listed as endangered species and are under threat of poaching. There are 49 black rhinos in Maasai Mara.

The Northern white Rhino is down to only 5 on the entire planet and recently one died at San Diego Zoo. Read more here.

Zimbabwe economy: New bond coins in circulation for Christmas

Bond coins, guaranteed by the Zimbabwe central bank and are pegged to the US dollar

Bond coins, guaranteed by the Zimbabwe central bank and are pegged to the US dollar

Special coins issued by Zimbabwe’s central bank have gone into circulation in the run-up to Christmas.

Zimbabwe abandoned its currency in 2009 due to hyperinflation and mainly uses the US dollar and South African rand.

But with very few coins for the US Dollar and SA rand in actual circulation, shoppers are given change in sweets or pens.

The central bank governor did promise that there were no plans to reintroduce the Zimbabwean dollar and the new bond coins would be pegged to the US dollar. Take this statement as you will, question being if you trust the Zimbabwe Government?

John Mangudya said US$10m (£6.3m) worth of bond coins – in one cent, five cent, 10 cent and 25 cent denominations – had so far been distributed to banks.

Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper reports reported that the total amount in circulation would not exceed US$50m.

‘Financially traumatised’
Analysts say the shortage of US$ coins has kept prices high as retailers often round them up, which has affected Zimbabwe’s economic growth on a drastic scale.

The total amount of the new coins in circulation will not exceed US$50m.

The total amount of the new coins in circulation will not exceed US$50m.

“Through the introduction of change in small denominations we are expecting to see self price corrections,” the Governor, Mr Mangudya is quoted by The Herald as saying last Thursday.

Zimbabwe’s private Daily News paper reported the central bank governor as describing his country as a “financially traumatised society”.

Towards the end of 2008, annual inflation had reached a staggering 230 million % with the highest denomination being a $100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note.

Prices in retail shops changed by the hour, most schools and hospitals were forced to close and at least eight in 10 people found themselves out of work.

The economy has since stabilised since switching to the $US and South African rand however many Zimbabweans still struggle to make ends meet.

Hyperinflation back in 2008 meant prices often changed by the hour in Zimbabwe

Hyperinflation back in 2008 meant prices often changed by the hour in Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe has appointed John Mangudya, the head of Zimbabwe’s largest financial institution, as the governor of the central bank back in early 2014.

Mangudya, 51, who was the chief executive of CBZ Holdings, replaced Gideon Gono, who retired last November at the expiry of his second term. Gono is also a former CBZ chief executive.

CBZ has been handling the government’s consolidated revenue account since 2009, when the economy dollarized and left the under capitalised central bank unable to fully perform its roles in the economy.

Mangudya, a University of Zimbabwe-trained economist, started his five year term from May 1.

Mandudya profile:

A Methodist born 5 October 1963 in Mutambara, Chimanimani, the last in a family of 12. An affable economist, with a slight stutter. Considers himself an adherent of Keynesian demand-side economics

1986 – Joined Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as an economist

1996 – left RBZ, having risen to become Principal Economist

1996 to 1999 –Joined the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) as the regional manager in charge of Southern Africa based in Harare.

2000 – CBZ Bank General Manager, International Banking CBZ Bank managing director

2004 – CBZ Bank Executive Director – Corporate and Merchant Banking

2006 – Appointed CBZ Bank Managing Director

2012 – CBZ Holdings Group Chief Executive

2009 -11 Bankers Association of Zimbabwe President

Under his watch, CBZ Holdings has grown both assets and deposits above $1 billion

Zimbabwe Dollar to be reintroduced?

China Stealing Zimbabwe’s Baby Elephants

Baby elephants are being abducted from Zimbabwe’s National Park, smuggled to Chinese zoos

Most of the young elephants will probably die on the boat ride over to China

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force says that the baby elephants “quite likely won’t survive the trip.” And even if they do, Chinese zoos aren’t exactly known for treating animals very well.

Poachers are obviously a huge problem, however the smuggling of live animals has also reached a crisis point, in part because some countries seem to care very little about the provenance of wildlife. Money and bribes seem a better way forward or else countries simply don’t have the means or the will to enforce wildlife protection laws. A very sad example of this comes from Zimbabwe.

The Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is supposed to be a protected area for wildlife, but the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a non-profit wildlife conservation group, has issued a quite disturbing report claiming that animals in the National Park are being abducted to be shipped to Chinese zoos (which have been known to put some of their animals on the menu and to let rare Siberian tigers starve to death when the money got tight)

Now eye-witness reports from tourists visiting the park are coming in about blatant live captures of the baby elephants. The youngsters are then taken to Mtshibi Capture Unit about 7 kilometres from Hwange’s Main Camp.

From reports, 34 baby elephants between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 years old, 7 lions and about 10 sable antelope have been captured in order to be shipped out but investigators were not allowed to get close enough to the capture unit to take photographs as there is very high security.

It is expected that the animals will be shipped by container trucks to Maputo in Mozambique where they will be transferred to a livestock freighter and sent on an arduous sea passage to China.


In further reports, one of the 36 elephants captured by the Zimbabwean government in early December has already died, according to a nonprofit organization monitoring the situation.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force reported the news on its Facebook page, adding that the animal’s “meat was shared out between the people” at the stockade where the elephant was being kept.

Animal rights groups have already begun to take a stand. In a letter to Zimbabwe’s environmental minister (Saviour Kasukuwere) Adam M. Roberts, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, had warned that the stolen animals were likely to experience extreme stress, an increased risk of disease and early death.

Removing these animals from the wild also severs social ties and has “serious implications for both animal welfare and conservation,” Roberts noted in the letter.

Officials with the Zimbabwean government took the 36 elephants — originally thought to be 34 (Above) from Hwange National Park in December and while they are apparently destined for Chinese Zoos, Kasukuwere told the Telegraph that they would be sent to the United Arab Emirates, and that such roundups happen “from time to time.”

Elephants are prone to obesity and infertility when kept captive and also suffer  mental anguish. Roberts cited a 2008 study of 77 captive elephants in the U.K. Though keepers were “highly skilled at detecting health issues such as injuries and disease,” 3 quarters of the elephants were overweight and half showed strange behavior like repetitive pacing around their enclosure.

Regardless of whether the elephants will end up in China or the UAE, when it comes to the wildlife trade, the reputation of both countries is, broadly speaking, much different than the U.K.’s.

Private owners in the UAE collect lions as a status symbol while Chinese demand for ivory is putting unsustainable pressure on elephants in the wild. It is believed that of four live elephant calves shipped to China from Zimbabwe in 2012, only one is believed to still be alive.

Northern White Rhino is Five Rhinos away from Extinction


With the recent death at San Diego Zoo Safari Park of a 44 year old male northern white rhino, the species is five rhinos away from extinction.

Angalifu, a male northern white rhino, died on Sunday and leaves an elderly female at the park, three in a Kenyan preserve and one at a Czech Republic zoo.

Poaching has brought the northern white rhino to the literal brink of extinction, said Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the Safari Park in San Diego.

Back in 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern whites, according to the World Wildlife Fund, but poachers obliterated the population and by 1984, there were about 15 of the rhinos left of the original 2000. By 1993 through aggressive conservation efforts, their population doubled to 30. But heavily armed poaching gangs have now virtually annihilated the species, the WWF says.

Poachers (aka disgusting human beings) are well funded and utilise helicopters, guns with silencers and night-vision equipment to kill the rhinos’ for their horns, which are in huge demand in Asia and sell for as much as £20,000 a pound.

Bearing in mind the penalties are not nearly as severe as for selling drugs, the Rhinos never stood a chance.

“We don’t like to talk about price,” Rieches said, “because we feel by giving out a number it could possibly encourage one more person to think they can make money with rhino horn.”

Angalifu essentially died of old age. According to the Safari Park, he had not been very well and had stopped eating for days before his sad death.

“Angalifu’s death is a tremendous loss to all of us,” Rieches said.

The white rhino (which has southern and northern subspecies) is the largest of all the rhino species and ranks as the second-largest mammal on land, after the African elephant, according to the WWF. The white rhino can reach 6 feet in height at the shoulder, with females weighing about 3.5 tonnes and males almost 8 tonnes. The head of the rhino alone can weigh as much as 1 tonne by itself.

Luckily, conservation efforts with southern white rhinos have been a lot more successful that their northern counterparts. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park boasts the most successful captive breeding program for rhinos on the whole planet.

Efforts at breeding the northern white rhinos at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya also have failed.

The reproductive system of the northern white rhino is very complex, Rieches said, and gauging the estrus cycle of the female is difficult. “The rhino is one of the species that we’re still working on to perfect artifical insemination.”

New methods of insemination are being worked on, Rieches said as some of Angalifu’s semen is being kept at the “frozen zoo” at the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research.

The best we can currently hope for is possibly impregnating a female southern white rhino with sperm from a male northern white rhino. With only 5 left, the clock is ticking.

Rhino Furniture 

Zimbabwe Dollar gets re-introduced

Zimbabwe Dollar gets re-introduced

The bankrupt Zimbabwean government of President Robert Mugabe has hatched a secret plan to raid the U.S. dollar accounts of citizens and give the owners worthless coins.

Zimbabwe Dollar gets re-introduced

Central bank governor John Mangudya announced Friday that the ‘special bond coins’ would go into circulation on December 18th 2014.

However, what the governor did not tell the public, is that on the same day, Mangudya will also announce that account holders will no longer be permitted to withdraw more than US$200 at any one time.
Mangudya claimed the coins would be a “good store for value”, a claim dismissed by economists as false.

“These coins will only be accepted as currency in Zimbabwe. Why would that be if the coins are at par with U.S. currency?” queried economist Phillip Maregere of FMG Capital in Johannesburg.

You can’t just invent a currency and say that it is on a par with the US Dollar.

“There is no law which says banks are under obligation to exchange the coins for U.S. dollars, or that the RBZ will immediately compensate the banks for their trouble. Mangudya may have sugar-coated bringing in the coins with good intentions, it may even look good on paper, but implementation will be problematic.”
Government sources said the Reserve Bank will create artificial shortages of U.S. dollars to make businesses accept the so-called ‘bond coins’ or centavos as some now call them.

“If you have any foreign currency in the bank, now is the time to take it all out, before the withdrawal limits are imposed. A lot of people are going to lose money in the banks when the accounts are frozen. This has happened before, when Gono slashed the zeroes and when Zimdollars were rendered worthless upon adoption of the multi-currency regime,” said a senior government source.

Further reading

Lion mauls Neo Nazi demonstrator

Lion mauls Neo Nazi demonstrator
Lion mauls Neo Nazi demonstrator

A male, neo-Nazi demonstrator has been seriously injured after climbing into lion enclosure at the Barcelona Zoo.

Dressed in an army uniform, he scaled a security fence and stood in front of a lioness who in typical lion fashion promptly dragged him into a tunnel and mauled him.

Police and firefighters used hoses to try get the lions off the man however it took around 30 minutes before they could rescue the 45-year-old who was covered in scratches and bite marks from the lions who where apparently playing with him. Bit like a cat plays with a mouse.

He was taken to hospital with serious injuries but they are not thought to be life-threatening. Unfortunately, when he wakes up and recovers, it is likely he will still be stupid.

Man in critical condition after lion attack in Barcelona Zoo

The entire incident happened in front of horrified tourists.

The man was named as Justo Jose MP and has a reputation for demonstrating around the city covered in Nazi Swastikas.

Justo was arrested in November at an anti-abortion protest. It is not clear what his intentions where by jumping into the Lion enclosure but the results are what you would expect should you wish to try the same stunt.

Ignasi Armengol, director of Barcelona Municipal Services said: “The intention was not to kill him, they were just trying to play with him.”