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A 200-acre Botanic Garden in Kitale

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Gardening

Crocodiles at Kitale Nature Conservancy in Trans Nzoia County, on June 09, 2018. The conservancy is also home for deformed animals. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA 

, a 71-year-old retired mathematics teacher started his botanic garden on just two acres. Now the Kitale Nature Conservancy sits on 200 acres and has from cows with bizarre conditions to lions and hyenas.

A statue of the late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai dressed in an orange dress holding a tiny potted plant welcomes nature lovers to the garden.

On the land, he has grown hundreds of indigenous plants, collected from almost everywhere in Kenya. There are about 600 to 700 different plant species.

Crocodiles, tortoises, ostrich and hyraxes mingle almost freely at the conservancy. Animals with dwarfism, elephantiasis, twisted neck, hernia, short tails— conditions that make them an abomination— also roam around.

There are several carvings of wild animals and stone writings with one notable that reads “the 11th commandment, thou shall not destroy planet earth, it is our only home.”

Mr Ndura was a mathematics teacher for 27 years. After he retired, he started travelling all over the country to collect plants. ‘‘I am convinced that it is important to conserve these plants some of which are almost extinct,” he says.

He has grouped the indigenous plant species into different families that includes the cider of the Lebanon, ficus sycomorus and euphoria tirucalli. There also a number of gardenia species like gardenia ternifolia and gardenia posoqueria.

In 1984, Mr Ndura moved from Limuru to Trans Nzoia in search of vast land to focus on his nature conservation activities. He started by buying land using his savings, then he slowly bought more.

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“I used savings from my salary and a micro-finance business to buy two acres of land where I started the botanical garden,” says Mr Ndura.

“By then, an acre of land was going for Sh20,000. I spent about Sh100,000 as starting capital which included collecting different plants species,” he says.

His passion for nature saw the conservationist start housing animals with deformities.

A tortoise at Kitale Nature Conservancy in Trans Nzoia County

A tortoise at Kitale Nature Conservancy in Trans Nzoia County, on June 09, 2018. The conservancy is also home for deformed animals. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

“Initially, I didn’t have space to keep the animals. I bought 10 more acres before bringing in the deformed animals,” he says.

In 2000, he bought a deformed cow with four horns and a distorted mouth for Sh40,000.

His neighbours used to associate the deformed animals to any bad events that occurred in the area. “Some thought I was a mad man because people think these animals are bad omens. When there was no rains or if lightening killed livestock in the area, the neighbours came and demanded that I relocate the animals from there,” he says.

However, with time, Mr Ndura says, the neighbours started coming to see the bizarre animals.

The conservancy attracts lovers and students who come to spend their pastime at the park or learn about animals.

“Any initiative that doesn’t involve the youth is bound to fail, it is crucial to nurture conservation culture at the tender age so that they interact with the animals early and curb poaching,” says the conservationist.

He hopes that the bizarre animals can also help researchers study about gene mutation.

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His environmental efforts have paid off and in 2010, he won the Head of State’s Commendation award from former President Mwai Kibaki.

Not all of the animals in the conservancy have deformities. He has Ankole cows, originally from Uganda, to help share information on indigenous domestic animals, which are drought tolerant and disease resistant.

The conservancy also hosts two lions, which were donations from Nairobi National Park, baboons, cane rats and a number of bird species.

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Canada PM says informal NAFTA talks likely in next few days at U.N.

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MONTREAL (Reuters) – U.S. and Canadian officials trying to reach a deal on NAFTA are “very likely” to hold informal talks on the sidelines of a major U.N. meeting in the next few days, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday.

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau waits for the Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez before a military welcoming ceremony at The Royal Canadian Hussars Armoury in Montreal, Quebec, Canada September 23, 2018. REUTERS/Dario Ayala

With time running out ahead of a U.S.-imposed deadline of the end of September, negotiators are making slow progress on updating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump struck a side deal on NAFTA with Mexico last month and has threatened to exclude Canada if necessary. He also said he might impose a 25 percent tariff on Canadian autos exports, which would badly hurt Canada’s economy.

Trump took office last year vowing to tear up NAFTA unless major changes were made to a pact he blames for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer – the two top officials at the talks – are due to be in New York on Monday and Tuesday for the U.N. General Assembly.

“Certainly the fact that many of our negotiators, many of our teams, will be in New York at the same time (means) it’s very likely that conversations continue in a constructive but less formal way,” Trudeau told reporters.

Trudeau, speaking after talks with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, said nothing had formally been arranged. A Freeland spokesman declined to comment.

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The United States and Canada are divided over the best way to resolve trade disputes and a U.S. demand for more access to Canada’s protected dairy market.

Markets are reacting nervously to uncertainty over the future of the 1994 pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade. Over the past 25 years, the three countries’ economies have become increasingly integrated, especially the auto industry.

Canadian negotiators have said they will not be rushed and Trudeau reiterated on Sunday that he would not sign a bad NAFTA deal.

Freeland and Lighthizer met in Washington last Thursday and made little progress. Canada also made clear the United States needed to withdraw the threat of auto tariffs for a deal to be possible.

Reporting by Allison Lampert; Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney

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WPP preparing to merge Young & Rubicam and digital ad firm VML: WSJ

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(Reuters) – The world’s largest advertising company WPP Plc’s (WPP.L) is preparing to consolidate some of its businesses in a bid to keep pace with the industry’s digital shift, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A logo hangs on the wall outside the WPP offices in London, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The company, under its new boss Mark Read, is considering a merger between Young & Rubicam and WPP’s digital-ad firm VML, putting the combined group under the leadership of VML CEO Jon Cook, WSJ reported, citing sources.

There are talks about having the group’s direct-marketing company Wunderman work with its creative firms to provide access to consumer data to help them craft more relevant ads, the WSJ reported, citing a source.

The market leader has been hit hard in the last year as clients have increasingly turn to online platforms such as Google and Facebook to reach consumers.

The group is also recovering from the departure of its founder and veteran CEO Martin Sorrell who left in April after complaint about personal misconduct, which he denied.

WPP was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair

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European Banking Authority is asked to investigate oversight of Danske Bank

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The European Commisssion has asked the European Banking Authority (EBA) to investigate what went wrong in the oversight of Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) Estonian branch, which is at the center of a major money laundering scandal, it said on Sunday, confirming a report in Financial Times.

FILE PHOTO: Danske Bank sign is seen at the bank’s Estonian branch in Tallinn, Estonia August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

The Commission has also sent letters, written at the request of justice commissioner Vera Jourova, to the Danish and Estonian governments to ask about the case and its supervision, the spokesman said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Writing by Teis Jensen; Editing by David Goodman

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