Friday, October 13, 2006

Pictures Can Be Deceiving

One would assume, at first glance that the harsh dry environment of the northern Sahara claimed the life of this camel. But it has actaully rained quite a bit in Northern Mauritania and in other parts of North and West Africa. If you look closely enough, you will see the border of the roadside where this picture was taken. It is likely a large truck hit the poor creature and rendered it food for the other creatures in the desert.

Though water has brought abundance to the desert this year, it has also brought other problems. Where there is water and an abundance of vegetation, there are also pests. The town of Atar where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1999-2001, used to take pride in the abscence of mosquitoes. That was not the case when I visited last week. It was impossible to sleep with the numbers that harrassed me throughout the night. Mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other parasites can bring illnesses to animals and make life difficult for pastoralists. There needs to be a balance of just enough rain for pasture for there to be ideal conditions for pastoralists.


Karl's Brother said...

Hey Franklin,
Just saw this. Be careful...

Niger bandits free Italy tourists
POSTED: 12:16 p.m. EDT, October 14, 2006

ROME, Italy (AP) -- Two Italian tourists kidnapped on August 22 by bandits in Niger were released in Libya by their captors, the Italian foreign ministry said.

The ministry thanked Libyan authorities, saying that help from a Libyan foundation was key to resolving the case. The two men were abducted while traveling with a tour group in Niger's vast desert near the border with Chad.

Claudio Chiodi and Ivano De Capitani were held by a rebel group known as FARS, the Foreign Ministry said.

"We are well, we are in good physical condition," Chiodi told RAI state TV in a telephone call from Tripoli, Libya's capital. "We thank everyone," Chiodi added.

Italy's ambassador to Tripoli, Francesco Trupiano, said the two men were flying back to Italy on Saturday afternoon.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara, known by its French acronym FARS, is a rebel group which operates in the east of Niger, along the border with Chad. The group, made up of desert tribesmen who have launched uprising calling for greater control over their homeland, has been accused of killing villagers and stealing camels and cattle.

The rest of the tour group included about 20 Italians, a German man and a Brazilian woman. The other tourists were released a day after the abduction.

The incident occurred in a region considered to be at high risk for criminal activity, and the ministry had issued warnings not to travel there.

The ministry singled out the help from a group named after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"The Foreign Ministry expresses gratitude and appreciation to the Libyan authorities and in particular to the Gadhafi Foundation for Development for the efficient and decisive contribution to the resolution of the case."

The ministry did not give details about the Libyans' involvement, but Rome and Tripoli have strong economic ties and generally good relations. The ministry statement said that the Italian military intelligence service and Italian diplomatic offices in the region also worked on the case.

Shortly after the abduction, Italy put out a statement in which FARS demanded representation in Niger's government. The ministry said then that the group had indicated it would release the captives immediately after their statement was made public.

But the promised release did not happen, and Niger's government ruled out negotiations with the kidnappers.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Karl's Brother said...

Hey Franklin,
Sorry for the long "cut and paste". I like your post about deceiving pictures. It got me to thinking about how first our impressions during research can be all wrong. Those of us who have worked in foreign (non EU/US) locations often have problems understanding this dynamic. It is a real challenge. That dead camel might be a "community" that looks to be a certain way, but upon a "wider lens" looks altogether different. What a challenge, no?