Category Africa

‘The land God made in anger’

The merciless coastline of northern Namibia has been the ill-wanted deathbed of many aquatic creatures.

Valdecasas

If dropped off by the Skeleton Coast – and if the name hasn’t scared you off already – the sight would resemble that of a coastal graveyard. Across the 500 kilometres (310 miles) from the Ugab River to the Angolan highlands, the bones of animals lie strewn in the soft sand, like a finished plate of barbeque ribs. They are accompanied by hundreds of rusty shipwrecks. Each has its own story. “There are mostly whale bones and a lot of seal bones,” says Volker Jahnke, of Desert Magic Tours Namibia. “Every now and then you also find human skeletons.”

The Skeleton Coast is the Bermuda Triangle of the South Atlantic Ocean, but without the myth...

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Down by the river

Each year more than one million wildebeest cross the rivers to graze in Kenya’s grasslands. But not everyone completes the journey.   

Eric-Isselee(1)

They call it the Great Migration, but it is in fact nothing of the sort. Throughout the year, nearly 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras travel in a continuous cycle that stretches across the vast plains of Tanzania and southern Kenya. The climax of the journey is some of the river crossings, where hordes of wildebeest sprint across murky waters infested with large crocodiles. But before even reaching that stage, they have a long way to go.

The setting of the wildebeest’s journey is loosely defined as the ‘Serengeti ecosystem’: an area of 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles) comprising of the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation...

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A cup of culture

Morocco’s love for green tea is a symbol of national identity and hospitality, but the rituals of serving the drink strongly differ from those in Europe. 

irabel8

The British are renowned for appreciating a good cup of tea, but such pleasures extend not only to drizzly climates. In Morocco, tea is everywhere: markets, bars, shops, hotels and restaurants. It is served on almost any social occasion, at any time during the day. The Moroccans even have a saying about its daily taste: “The first glass is as gentle as life; the second glass is a strong as love; the third glass is as bitter as death.”

Green tea is the default social beverage in Morocco, particularly because alcohol is not allowed. Men often enjoy it in bars; women in their homes...

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A wake-up call

With Africa’s rhino and elephant poaching worsening by the year, Charlie Mayhew, founder and chief executive of conservation charity Tusk, says nations must pass tougher legislation or risk losing their prized wildlife.

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In early December last year, four black rhinos were found dead at the Lewa Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya. They had been shot. The news was shocking: this was Africa’s most secure facility. Protected by 150 armed officers, it had gone from 1995, when it was founded, to 2010 without losing a single rhino. Two weeks later another discovery was made. A four-year-old calf was found dead, its body riddled with bullets.

The slaughter highlighted the increasingly brutal reality of rhino and elephant poaching that Charlie Mayhew and fellow conservationists are fighting against...

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The camel artist

Since quitting his job as a middle school teacher in Washington, D.C. in 2010 to travel West Africa, Phil Paoletta has discovered a continent at odds with that portrayed in the mainstream media. Now established in Africa running a restaurant and catering business, he talks about ‘slow travel’, western misconceptions and why he now teaches people how to draw camels.

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How did you end up in West Africa?

I had studied abroad in Ghana when I was in college and I simply wanted to go back. I originally chose Ghana to study abroad due to an obsession with highlife music. Once there, I fell in love with many other aspects of Ghanaian life and culture. Each year that I was teaching, I put a bit of money aside with the eventual goal being to take a substantial trip in West Africa...

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The last survivors

The giant tortoise has for centuries been outcompeted, chased and poached towards extinction. But on a remote atoll outside the Seychelles, a large colony is prospering.

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The story of the giant tortoise is often a sad one. Since the 17th century, settlers and explorers have raided islands in the Indian Ocean, putting tortoises on their ships as food. The reptiles can go six months without food or water, providing starved sailors with fresh meat. Where humans weren’t involved, rival species snared its food and attacked its eggs; the giant tortoise, after all, was never designed for combat or getaways. By the late 1800s, the global population was estimated at below 1,000.

The narrative is quite different at the Aldabra Atoll, an isolated ecosystem controlled by the Seychelles...

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Licence to thrill

Three years ago, Botswana introduced a nationwide ecotourism certificate system to encourage tour operators to become more sustainable. But has it worked?

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Africa is home to many wonderful clichés. Mention the continent and wildebeest, lions, giraffes and elephants spring to mind, wandering in groups or chasing something across the dry landscapes with safari jeeps in the distance, packed with excited tourists. Of this Botswana is a classic example; a landlocked country in southern Africa, roughly the size of France, where animals roam freely in what is an Eldorado of national parks. But as elsewhere in Africa, the wear and tear of visitors is taking its toll on the ecology. Which is why Botswana, luckily, is taking steps to preserve it.

There is much worth protecting...

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