1,000 ways to skim the qhat

WILSON AIRPORT (NAIROBI) – The inevitable lull between writing gigs makes a good opportunity to catch up on the blog.
8:42 AM – Dormans coffee shop waiting for my flight to Nanyuki.
Several tons of miraa or qhat (“organic” herbal stimulant) are flown out of this airport to Somalia every day. Two 30 seater planes take off one after the other at 6 am for the short flight to Mogadishu. I’m told that Somalis own quite a number of private planes – Caravans, mostly – which, most ironically, ferry aid workers (like the kidnapped American, Jessica Buchanan) to remote parts of Somalia.
Lloyd’s of London insures most of these planes as they do commercial ships that pirates hijack. Pirates and insurance companies make a killing. Whatever insurance companies lose in ransom monies, they make up for with clients.
~
Nanyuki is several hundred miles upcountry from Nairobi. I’ll be visiting Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya’s largest rhino sanctuary. I’m writing about country’s most recent spate of rhino poaching most likely linked to Chinese demand for horns and tusks. A young female rhino with a calf was slaughtered there a few weeks ago.
The poachers removed all the female reproductive organs — even the nipples.
TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)? Juju (black magic)?
No one knows for sure — it’s a first.

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Categories: Conflict In Context - Field NotesTags: , , , ,

Margot Kiser | Conflict in Context

I am a Kenya-based American correspondent, focusing on conflict in East Africa. I have contributed to Newsweek, Al Jazeera, The Daily Beast, among others.

Follow me on Twitter: @margotkiser1

Best long read ByLiner 2011 for my Newsweek feature, 'Pirates in Paradise' http://byliner.com/margot-kiser/stories
http://www.newsweek.com/authors/margot-kiser

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