An Austrian tourist got nabbed recently at the Amboseli National Park, when he was flying a drone, aka as a UAV, ostensibly to take pictures from an elevated location to include in his holiday picture and video album.
Little did he know, however, that the use of such contraptions is prohibited in Kenya and instead of continuing with his safari, an unscheduled trip to court in the border town of Loitokitok was made mandatory, after he was arrested by security personnel in the park.
The magistrate fined the tourist some 50,000 Kenya shillings (US$546), after he plead guilty to the charges brought against him, teaching a lesson that ignorance of the law is no excuse, no matter how innocent the motives were.
It is understood that customs are now also keeping a lookout for small UAVs brought into the country by tourists, and visitors risk having them confiscated on entry, apart from taking the gamble of incurring heavy fines or even getting jail time, if they are found to operate such contraptions without a license.
Said a senior tourism stakeholder when asked for a comment: “I think we need to include this information in our general guidance on what to do and what not to do when visiting Kenya. I know from my own experience that in many parts of the world, small UAVs are often used by tourists to take selfies from the air or otherwise get pictures of attractions from a unique airborne perspective. It may be legal there, but in Kenya has the use of these things been prohibited unless you have undergone security clearance and got a license. My advice to potential visitors, don’t bring these things along with you. My advice to guides and drivers, when you see any wagenis pull such a thing out of their bag, tell them to put it straight back in because they risk jail or expensive fines and have their safari disrupted, at their own cost I should add.”
Well-expressed sentiments those are, and, of course, such expert advice is best followed so that a holiday in Kenya remains trouble free and can be enjoyed on the beaches and from the terraces of the safari lodges and NOT from the dock in a magistrates court room.
Meanwhile a debate on Kenya’s social media scene is going on with statements made that in the absence of legislation and regulations, the use of UAVs should not be criminalized or penalized. Check out this link for further details: http://mwarv.click.co.ke/2015/01/16/flying-drones-in-kenya/