Archive for July 19th, 2011

Blues making it on their own

| 19/07/2011 | 45 Comments

(CNS): The director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme says he is now confident that there are more than 500 of Cayman’s iconic indigenous reptile surviving in the country’s two reserves and in the wild. Fred Burton says the programme is only two years away from the target of 1000 blues set as a mark of its success. After more than a decade of hard work, and painstaking research, Burton and his team have succeeded in bringing the blues back from the brink of extinction which is an extraordinary achievement. Next month with the release of another young 100 blues into the new Colliers reserve there will be at least six hundred making it on their own.

Burton explained that as the programme grows it gets more difficult to give an exact number as the blues are now breeding in the wild and it is no longer possible to count them. 

“As we get into these larger numbers the exact count becomes elusive because it isn’t possible just to go out there and find each and every one – nowhere near possible, in fact,” Burton told CNS. “We have to rely on sampling techniques now. But from the total released, we have deducted the ones we know have died, which are the ones which migrated out of the protected areas and were run over or killed by dogs.

“As for the rest, we have no evidence of deaths, or morbidity/sickness/stress that would indicate we are losing any within the protected areas and surrounds, and we do have evidence of wild breeding which would counteract any natural mortality, so I’m fairly confident the numbers are if anything, conservative,” he added.

Once the target of 1000 blue iguanas living in the reserves and the wild Burton said the whole focus of the programme will then shift from population restoration to sustainable management of the threats so that the incredible gains can be held in the long term.

The positive news is even more incredible given the fact that there were no more than a dozen iguanas left in the wild when Burton began the programme around a decade ago. A 2002 survey demonstrated the dire circumstances which the almost forgotten creature was in.

Despite knowing very little at the time about the behaviour, feeding habits, or lifecycle, Burton began the captive breeding programme and through rearing the iguanas and observing them at various ages, then letting them goand tracking their behaviour, the team learned the life of the blue iguana.

The blues turned out to be big fruit lovers which may well have been the iguana’s downfall, as they fell prey to farmers’ dogs and cats, in the orchards where they went in search of their favourite food as their own natural habitat dwindled.
 
As the team learned more about the blues they were able to know when to release them to give them the best chance of survival. Now with two reserves that have no roads or farms the blues have been able to survive and breed. This summer Burton said the team found evidence of the blues nesting inside Colliers Wilderness reserve the iguana’s second colony alongside the Salina Reserve. Burton said that Juanita, an adult female released there last year became enamoured of the big male Zarco, and evidently they must have mated this summer.

He said some of the younger iguanas may have also begun breeding and laying the odd egg there but he noted that Juanita (pictured right guarding her nest site) could easily have laid eight eggs or more.

With the ongoing success of the recovery programme Burton is looking to the future, one which includes offering tourists access to these incredible and unique animals. Plans are now afoot to build an ecologically self sustainable nature attraction at the new Colliers Wilderness Reserve where visitors will be able to see the blue iguanas once again making it on their own as nature intended.

 

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Drivers offered lesson on tackling roundabouts

| 19/07/2011 | 70 Comments

(CNS): How to negotiate a roundabout correctly and safely will be one of a number of topics that will be address during the latest special driving school hosted by Streetskills. Next week, drivers of all ages can view practical demonstrations of safe driving techniques, accident-prevention measures and proper auto equipment.  The theme of this month’s programme is Road Craft.  Segments are intended to educate drivers on issues ranging from tyre choices and pressures to the mechanics of safe driving. Road Craft will also include advice and guidance on the consequences of speeding, and driving in inclement weather.

Officials said this summertime topic was chosen to cater to motorists, especially new or young drivers, who may need to navigate roads during rainy conditions. 

Encouraging attendance on Thursday, 28 July Chairman of the Road Safety Committee, Royal Cayman Islands Police Chief Superintendent John Jones said, “The aim is to educate drivers on operating vehicles, with a view to enhancing safe driving. These detailed approaches will touch on areas such as vehicle lights and driving tips to counter hydroplaning and other risky road conditions.”

This National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) initiative will be held from 4 to 5:00pm at the Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing (DVDL) compound, across from the Lions’ Centre. The presentation team will include DVDL Assistant Manager Stephen Quinland and RCIPS staff. A representative from Saxon Insurance Company will also discuss the importance of having appropriate auto coverage. The session will also be videotaped and broadcast as a GIS Spotlight TV segment during August.

The NRSS’ monthly focus on safetybegan in April and has so far addressed cell phone use by motorists, and pressures regularly experienced by youthful drivers.

Streetskills is the education component of NRSS. It is an interagency initiative which has the support and active involvement of the private sector – namely the Cayman Islands Road Safety Advisory Council (CIRSAC).
The remaining two components are engineering (road construction, maintenance and signage); and enforcement (traffic safety and the detection of driving offences).

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Liquidators get access to information held by lawyer

| 19/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A BVI based liquidation firm has been given access to company information held by a lawyer by an Israeli court recently. In what the firm said was a ground breaking decision on 2 May the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court granted Ken Krys and Charlotte Caulfield of KRyS Global,  the liquidators of Eldon Ventures Limited the right to examine the company and shareholder information held by the company’s former legal advisor. The advisor had claimed that as he jointly represented both the company and its shareholders client attorney privilege prevented him from sharing this information and the liquidators were obliged to seek directions from the Court.

This is the first time that a decision of this type has been rendered by the Israeli courts in pursuance of a request for judicial assistance originating from a foreign legal authority and going forward it is likely to be an additional tool for Liquidators to use in future Israeli company investigations, the liquidators explained.

Krys and Caulfield had identified several parties of interest in Israel during their investigations into the affairs of the company. In order to obtain access to these parties and the company information in their possession they were required to make an application to the BVI Court to issue a formal Letter of Request (a letter rogatory) to the Minister of Justice in Israel, on behalf of the Liquidators for the examinations of these parties pursuant to the powers set out in Section 284 of the BVI Insolvency Act 2003.

This application was successful and the BVI court issued the letter and the Israeli court then granted the Liquidators leave to execute it. The liquidators then proceeded to conduct interviews of several parties including the former legal advisor in Israel.

It was during the course of this examination that the legal advisor claimed that the majority of documents within his possession were subject to client attorney privilege and could not be shared. The legal advisor confirmed that he would cooperate fully with any court directions should it be determined that no such client privilege exists.

The liquidators applied to the Court to confirm whether any client attorney privilege applies and in its decision the Court ordered the former legal advisor to deliver up all company documents in his possession and make himself available to answer all questions posed by the Liquidators in respect of the company and its shareholders.

The joint liquidators were represented by their Israeli Attorneys, Alex Hertman and Noam Zamir of S. Horowitz & Co., Tel Aviv and British Virgin Islands Attorneys, Richard Evans and Dawn Smith of Conyers Dill & Pearman.

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UK naval ship docks to prepare foremergencies

| 19/07/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): RFA Wave Ruler which is providing cover for the Caribbean OTs and Bermuda during this year’s hurricane season will be visiting the Cayman Islands later this month to allow the support ship’s crew to familiarise themselves with local infrastructure, in case there is a need to respond to any regional emergency. The ship will arrive in Grand Cayman on 22 July and then head to Cayman Brac for a day on 27 July. Patrolling the North Atlantic and Caribbean, RFA Wave Ruler comprises a significant part of the navy’s presence in this hemisphere. Its primary roles are to provide support to UK Overseas Territories and to strengthen the UK's regional commitment.

That includes providing area support in the event of natural disasters such as hurricanes. With its extensive range of disaster relief stores, Wave Ruler is capable of providing food, water and shelter as required. Grand Cayman is also the storage site for the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) emergency response items for the region. Local DFID storage is the responsibility of the Cayman Islands Red Cross.

Local officials said that this will be the ships fourth visit since 2008. Over the weekend, Commanding Officer Captain Norris (RFA) will host a reception for local dignitaries and winners of the Governor’s Five Star Award for Customer [Service] Excellence (F.A.C.E.). 

Naval officers will also meet with officials from the Health Services Authority and the Cayman Islands Red Cross to discuss responses in the event of a major disaster. In addition, the ship’s company will participate in a search and rescue exercise, call on the Cayman’s Marine Unit, and participate in a football match. 

Calls will also be made on Donovan Ebanks, acting governor and acting premier Rolston Anglin as well as Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) Director McCleary Frederick.

On Wednesday, 27 July, the vessel will call at Cayman Brac, to discuss disaster relief with Sister Islands’ District Commissioner Ernie Scott and other officials, and tour the island.

 

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Cayman gets extra holiday for queen’s jubilee

| 19/07/2011 | 17 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands government has confirmed that the country will get an extra public holiday in June next year to mark the royal diamond jubilee in June. Alongside the usual holiday celebrated on the queen’s official birthday on 18 June, Monday, 4 June will also be a day off for Caymanians. Cabinet approved the holiday last week, in keeping with the UK public holiday. Elizabeth II has been on the British throne and head of the commonwealth for sixty years. She became queen on 6 February 1952, the day her father George VI died but the anniversary is marked on the day of the coronation which took place over a year later on 2 June 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II who is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror seized the crown of England, is the only monarch other than Queen Victoria to have remained on the throne for 60 years. Despite the institution’s ups and downs over the years, it is still supported by the majority of the population in the UK with the most recent opinion polls showing an average of 60% support for the monarchy.

Since the royals began paying tax on their private earnings and the civil list was reduced it was recently revealed that the cost to the British tax payer of maintaining the royal family is down to just 51 UK pence per head, per year.

The British government is currently in the process of changing the way the monarchy is financed with the introduction of the Sovereign Grant Bill. It creates a new consolidated sovereign grant payment to replace the current funding streams that support the Queen in her official duties, including the Civil List, which dates back to George III.

Under the new scheme, the royal family’s annual budget is supposed to rise and fall in line with the wider economy, and any end-of-year surplus would be used to reduce the government payment in the next financial year. The sovereign grant would also enable MPs to subject the Queen’s coffers to the same detailed audit and examination as Whitehall departments, to ensure they provide “value for money”.

The queen is estimated to have personal net worth of $500 million that comes from property holdings including Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, stud farms, a fruit farm and marine land throughout the UK, an array of fine art and jewellery as well as one of the world’s largest stamp collections built by her grandfather. As Queen she gets to enjoy other assets as well including $10 billion worth of real estate, Buckingham Palace, the Royal Art collection, and swans.

Most of her wealth is tied to her position and not hers personally so she can’t realize those assets. However, it is unlikely that the British monarch would ever find herself strapped for cash. 
 

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Ten girls vie for Miss Cayman Islands crown

| 19/07/2011 | 42 Comments

(CNS): The ten girls from across the Cayman Islands who are competing for the title of Miss Cayman Islands this year, will be launching themselves, their charities and their sponsors at a the Miss Cayman Platform Launch and Fashion Show fundraiser this weekend. This event will recognize ten charities chosen by the 2011 Miss Cayman contestants, who will introduce themselves and their sponsors to the community. This year’s contestants are Janelle Muttoo; Alyssa Christian; Jera Ebanks; Jadine Swanson; Crystal Tomlinson; Lindsay Japal; Hettie Ann Dunbar; Samantha Widmer; Jessica Ebanks; and Cassianne Lawrence. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

The girls have chosen to support a range of charities, including Special Olympics, Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, New Self Help Community Foundation; Meg High’s Children’s Cancer Foundation, Cayman Aids Foundation, Central Caribbean Marine Institute, Department of Children and Family Services, Cayman Hospice Care, Cayman Islands Red Cross and Cayman Islands Cancer Society. 

Photo by by Luis Vallecillo

Encourage people to come and support the young women at the event on Saturday at 6:30 Miss Cayman Committee Chairperson Lynn Bodden said it was a great cause as the contestants are giving back to the local community.

The ten girls were recently given several tips on the beauty trade at an orientation session on hair and make-up as well as diet and nutrition alongside the current Miss Cayman Islands, Cristin Alexander.

Event tickets are available from the contestants or by contacting the Mini

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Survey reveals Caribbean people worried about crime

| 19/07/2011 | 1 Comment

(Go-Jamaica): A soon to be published United Nations report on citizen security in the region shows large sections of Caribbean people feel unsafe and do not have confidence in what is being done to combat crime. The Victimization Survey was undertaken on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Caribbean Human Development Report and conducted in seven countries, namely, Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, during the period November 2010 to February 2011.The Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security is the first of its kind for the region and will be launched here later this year.

The report has the objective of better understanding why citizen security is so badly needed in these countries and why violence and insecurity are so prevalent in Caribbean. It intends to be an instrument to deal with such issues from a regional perspective, while at the same time taking into account the national level issues and specificities.

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Shetty close to raising target capital for hospital

| 19/07/2011 | 34 Comments

(CNS): According to the India based Business Standard, Dr Devi Shetty, the man who is promising to kickstart medical tourism in the Cayman Islands, is close to raising some US$65 milllion (Rs300 crore) for the first phase of his health city which he plans to develop on Grand Cayman. Narayana Hrudayalaya, the organisation which Shetty chairs, is, according to the specialist doctor, raising the funds through a mix of debt and equity. Shetty has said that the group is in talks with a couple of US-based strategic players to invest in the project and a financial investor will pick up equity besides raising debt.

If the efforts to raise the targeted funding are successful it will be the second largest fund raising which the hospital chain has completed. In 2007 it raised $100 million from J P Morgan and AIG.

Shetty signed an MOU with the Cayman government in April 2010 for 12 months, which was recently extended. Since then the government has changed the health practitioners law and introduced a cap on non-economic damages in connection with medical negligence in order to facilitate the recruitment of medical staff from all over the world and to allow the staff to gain affordable medical practice insurance.

However, so far Shetty and his local partners have not yet revealed where the first phase of the project, which is a 250-300 bed hospital, will be located.

Shetty told the Indian media that the project was now progressing after what he described as initial hiccups, “All issues are close to being settled and we are progressing on the project,” he said.

The hospital chain has become famous worldwide for its low cost cardiac surgery and Shetty plans to create a medical facility in Cayman catering to the US market in four phases. Spread across ten acres somewhere in the eastern districts, the hospital will eventually reach around 2,000 beds cover a range of specialities, a medical university and an assisted living facility. In the first phase, the hospital will cater to heart, cancer, ortho and gastrointestinal surgery.

“Cayman Islands is an hour flight from the US and we intend to offer cost-effective treatment for the citizens of the US and also who are under-insured. We will also cater to the local population,” Shetty added.

Shetty also told the Business Standard that he is working to acquire a hospital in Malaysia.

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Toddler drowns in condo pool

| 19/07/2011 | 42 Comments

(CNS): A two-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool Monday, police have reported, and the toddler’s 68-year-old grandmother is currently in intensive care following her efforts to try and save him. The police said that the child and elderly woman were found in the pool at the George Town apartment complex in the afternoon by the boy’s young sister. Police received a report at around 5:20pm that the child and an elderly female had been found in the swimming pool at Town and Country Townhouses, George Town, both were unconscious and unresponsive. It appears that the young boy got into difficulties in the pool and his grandmother jumped into assist him.

The alarm was raised by the boy's 9-year-old sister who found her brother and her grandmother in the pool. Police and paramedics attended the scene, CPR was carried out and both were conveyed to the Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town. The little boy was pronounced dead on arrival and his grandmother has been admitted to intensive care.

Police stated that enquiries into what took place are ongoing but an RCIPS spokesperson said that all indications were that this was a tragic accident with what appeared to be no suspicious circumstances.
 

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Airport expansion set to start

| 19/07/2011 | 95 Comments

(CNS):The premier gave very little away on Monday about the future of Owen Roberts International Airport when he made the opening remarks at the AAAE Airports Conference of the Americas. McKeeva Bush said that the long-awaited planned expansion that will triple the size of the current airport would be underway shortly but he didn’t say who would be constructing the project or how it would be financed. The premier said that the expansion plans would allow larger aircraft to come to Cayman, indicating that the proposed runway extension would be part of the redevelopment. Bush said that the conference, which Cayman was hosting for the first time, was timely as lessons learned would be put to good use as the full scale expansion would start soon.

“Refurbishment of the airport has been ongoing in a piecemeal fashion in order to tackle the most urgently required minor changes,” he said. “But I’m pleased to say that CIAA is finally poised to embark on the bulk of planned changes which have been in the pipeline since 2007. They will allow newer and bigger jets to fly into Grand Cayman, spurring air passenger growth from the current 950,000 annually to a projected 1.25 million a year.”

He said the changes would also improve passenger amenities, enhance baggage handling capabilities and increase the welcoming atmosphere for people arriving in Cayman. However, the premier gave no details about financing for the development or whether the airport would be constructed by China Harbour Engineering Company.

For several months now there has been considerable speculation in the community that as well as taking on the George Town cruise berthing facilities, a cruise pier at Cayman Turtle Farm in West Bay, and the reconstruction of the jetty at Spotts, CHEC would also be involved in the airport project. Earlier this year Bush had suggested that the Bejing based firm was interested in building the airport but so far there has been no confirmation regarding the proposed plans for Owen Roberts.

The need for new airport facilities and in particular the expansion of the runway by at least 2,000 feet to allow for intercontinental long haul flights, especially from Europe, has been a government policy of both the UDP and PPM administrations over the last decade.

However, the issue of whether or not the airport should remain in George Town or move east and how the project should be financed appear to be at the main factors in delaying the project. The previous administration had settled on keeping the airport at its current location and had drawn up plans for its redevelopment but those plans were thwarted in face of the economic downturn. The goal then was for the airport to raise the capital itself for the project.

With public finances still precarious and no money voted in the most recent budget for the project, if the redevelopment is to begin this year it must be through private investment. Although Cayman Airports Authority is one government’s unsubsidised companies and its earnings have been sufficient to deal with the piecemeal renovations, the anticipated surplus for this financial year of just over $3.5 milllion falls far short of the funds required for a complete renovation and runway extension.

During his address Bush pointed to the importance of Owen Roberts as well as the airports on the Sister Islands to Cayman’s success, as he said without these vital entry points, “we would never have grown or progressed as we have. Instead, we would have indeed remained the 'Islands that time forgot',” he said.

The premier said it was no exaggeration to say airports were imperative to tourism-reliant economies. “Today’s airports, particularly international ones, play a significantly complex role. Airport executives must therefore determine new solutions to existing problems as well as respond to new challenges that are encountered,” he added.

"With growing demands from increasingly sophisticated and tech-savvy clientele as well as better body and baggage searching techniques, the need for enhanced safety requirements while ensuring smooth passenger flows airports are akin to mini-domains,” he said. Bush added that airports such as the CIAA must maintain their economic independence, earn revenue and function as corporate entities in order to remain viable and even make a profit.

The conference, which has drawn together airport industry experts from across the Americas, is being held this week at the Grand Cayman Marriot Resort.

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