— Fernando Pessoa (via lucifelle)
#EarthDay: Situated across the north-western stretch of Northern Africa, the Idurar n Watla (Atlas Mountains) is a mountain range that spans roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
The highest peak is Toubkal mountain with an elevation of 4,167 metres (13,671 ft) in southwestern Morocco. The Idurar n Watla range separates the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines from the Sahara Desert.
These mountains have been home to various flora and fauna, many of which are unique to Africa. Many of these plants and animals are endangered any many other plant and animal species have become extinct. Examples include the Barbary Macaque, the Atlas Bear (Africa’s only species of bear; now extinct), the Barbary Leopard, the Barbary stag, Barbary Sheep, the Barbary Lion (extinct in the wild), the Atlas Mountain Badger, the North African Elephant (extinct), the African Aurochs (extinct), Cuvier’s Gazelle, the Northern Bald Ibis, Dippers, the Atlas mountain viper, the Atlas Cedar, the European Black Pine, and the Algerian Oak.
Some of these animals were victims of the illegal animal trade, such as the Barbary macaque, others became extinct due to human interference such as the Atlas bear that was hunted for sport or used in the execution of criminals by the Romans during their expansion into North Africa. Similarly, it is believed that the North African elephant became extinct during the Roman conquest into this part of Africa. Barbary lions were often given as gifts to royals of countries such as Morocco and Ethiopia.
The Atlas are rich in natural resources and contains deposits of iron ore, lead ore, copper, silver, mercury, rock salt, phosphate, marble, anthracite coal, and gas among other resources.
#EarthDay: Commonly known as the ‘baobab’ tree, the incredibly tall and phenomenally impressive adansonia is a genus of eight species of tree, six native to Madagascar, one native to mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and one to Australia. The mainland African species also occurs on Madagascar, but it is not a native of that island.
Adansonias reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and have trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). Glencoe baobab – an African baobab specimen in Limpopo Province, South Africa, often considered the largest example alive – up to recent times had a circumference of 47 metres (154 ft).
Its diameter is estimated at about 15.9 metres (52 ft). Recently the tree split up into two parts and it is possible that the stoutest tree now is Sunland baobab, also in South Africa. The diameter of this tree is 10.64 m, with an approximate circumference of 33.4 metres.
Some baobabs are reputed to be many thousands of years old, which is difficult to verify, as the wood does not produce annual growth rings, though radiocarbon dating may be able to provide age data.
Baobabs store water inside the swollen trunk (up to 120,000 litres / 32,000 US gallons) to endure the harsh drought conditions particular to each region. All occur in seasonally arid areas, and are deciduous, shedding their leaves during the dry season.
The leaves are commonly used as a leaf vegetable throughout the area of mainland African distribution, including Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and the Sahel. They are eaten both fresh and as a dry powder. In Northern Nigeria, the leaves are locally known as kuka(Hausa), and are used to make Kuka soup (Miyan kuka).
The fruit has a velvety shell and is about the size of a coconut, weighing about 1.44 kilograms (3.2 lb). It has an acidic, tart flavor, described as ‘somewhere between grapefruit, pear, and vanilla’.
The dried fruit powder contains about 12% water and various nutrients, including carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, potassium and iron.
In Zimbabwe, the fruit is known as mawuyu in the Shona language and has long been a traditional fruit. According to one source, locals “ate the fruit fresh or crushed the crumbly pulp to stir into porridge and drinks”. Malawi women have already set up commercial ventures earning their children’s school fees for their harvesting work.
Jeune femme indienne adossée à un coussin
18e siècle, époque moghole (18e siècle)
Gouache, peinture sur papier
(C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée Guimet, Paris) / Thierry Ollivier