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Sky lanterns are also known as, ‘Kongming lantern’ or Chinese lanterns. They are small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. Sky lanterns originated from China at around 181-234 CE, it is said that a military strategist known as Kongming used sky lanterns to write messages to summon for help in an occasion where he was surrounded by enemy troops. These lanterns are used for festivities such as the mid-Autumn and Lantern festivities by the Chinese. Sometimes they were used by the military to send messages just like when Kongming did. Now they are being used all over the world by the Indians, Japanese, Taiwanese, the Lanna people of Thailand and sometimes in some African and European countries although they are not very common in the latter. When the small fire is lit the paper on the lantern begins to fill with air and eventually the lantern can be released and it floats away towards the sky. However, If the balloon is tilted by wind, the paper will catch fire and burn within a few seconds and the flame source will remain lit until it touches the ground. The leftover thin wire may pose a threat to animals that may swallow it. In 2009, a lantern set fire to a house in North Rhine-Westphalia Germany bringing about the death of a 10-year-old boy. In 2013, the largest fire ever in West Midlands, England causing damage worth 6Million pounds which was also caused by a sky lantern. In 2018, a pavilion at Riocentro convention center, near downtown Rio in Brazil fully burned down after a sky lantern landed on its roof. On New Year’s Eve over 30 animals including; several monkeys, five orangutans, two gorillas, fruit bats and birds were burnt alive at Ape house after it was set ablaze by sky lanterns. Two chimps survived but they sustained minor injuries. Sky lanterns have been known to also pose threats to flying aircrafts and birds.Some countries have however banned the use of these lanterns like; Germany, Austria, Argentina,Colombia,Chile, Spain,Vietnam, Brazil, the Kittitas county of Washington and the Sanya province of China. After reading all about what dangers sky lanterns have posed to animals you should ask yourself, ‘Why am I still using these lanterns and how many people will I tell this year to stop using them?’ Barbara Michoma, The Traveling Mindset.

Published by Barbara Michoma

I am a tour operator in Kenya. I have a degree in Tourism Management and I have my own company known as The Traveling mindset Limited which is centered on giving people a chance to experience the world in a sustainable way. I am extremely passionate about climate change, human rights, sustainable tourism, accessible tourism and meeting new people and giving them unforgettable experiences. For fun I play hockey and read all kinds of books. I have two dogs and I love animals very much. My all time hobby though, is writing and sharing my thoughts with the world.

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