Monday, June 2, 2008

The other day I arrived in the Marra Bagga Market to find that one of my friends and a participant in my research had purchased 4 new leopard hides.  He was excited to show them to me and promptly unfolded the largest for me to photograph.  The hide was quite large, roughly 2 meters by 1 meter; most likely an adult female.  The other three hides measured approximately 1.5 meters by 1 meter (probably young males).    

He purchased the four hides from a professional middleman who specializes in transporting and selling wildlife parts.  My friend purchased the four leopard hides for 210,000cfa (roughly $500.00).  The three smaller hides went for 50,000cfa each, while the larger single hide sold for 60,000cfa.  

Later in the afternoon I returned to my friend and learned that he had sold the three smaller hides to another of my research participants who works at the Artisana.  He sold the three hides to the Artisana vendor for a total of 200,000cfa.  Talk about a quick return on your investment.  The larger hide will remain in the Marra Bagga Market and be sold by piece, whereas the hides sold in the Artisana will most likely be sold whole to a tourist or other affluent individual.

This last picture is taken in the Marra Bagga Market.  I was walking by one of my participant's stall and saw something out of place.  For some reason I found this very funny, but the joke was lost in translation.  I tried to ask in Bamana: How much does Big Bird sell for?  What medicine is he used to make?  I got some very strange looks as I was told that it was not for sale, the vendor had purchased it for his daughter.  Some jokes are best left unsaid.  

Monday, May 5, 2008

Here are a few pictures I took over the past couple of months.  Note the snake theme.  These are taken of two different "Simbo".  Simbo tend to be hunters and present themselves as supernatural practitioners.  The two full color wall paintings are from the home and office of a Simbo who is a "Jo tigi" - he uses power objects to protect and to cause harm.  These services are available for a fee.  The single drawing on the inside of a door from another Simbo.  He specializes in "La Tru" (the sacred sands).  He makes his living performing divination for local clientele.   I particularly like the "Turbo Eminem" - not sure what it is in reference to though. 

Friday, March 28, 2008

"They Killed the Lion"

Yesterday I was  chatting with my teacher and mentor when his cell phone rang.  "They killed the lion" he told me after he hung up.  The lion he was referring to had been plaguing the village of Jon Fa Kuru (my teachers natal village).   Apparently the lion had killed and eaten many cows and local hunters had been after it for a while.  My teacher explained to me that the lion had been killed the night before last and that it was on its way to the Mara Bagga Yoro (animal parts market) in downtown Bamako.  

About four hours after the initial call a man came to greet my teacher.  He was the middleman that had transported the hide and head of the lion to Bamako to sell.  Think of it as commission work, my teacher told me.  "He (the middleman) will sell it and give half of the money to the hunter that killed the lion."  I asked who the hunter was, maybe I knew him?  Turns out I had met him during my stay in Jon Fa Kuru.  I'm told that the hunter used the brake cable from a motorcycle to make a leg snare trap.  Several hours after baiting the trap the hunter returned to find the lion snared and already dead.  The lion killed itself trying to get free.  Within 24 hours of being hunted the head and hide of the lion had been transported to Bamako to be sold.  The estimated price for the lion parts is 300,000cfa (approximately $600.00).  It was all sold to one specific vendor that is known to have significant capital at his disposal.  The following photos were taken in the compound of my teacher, out of public sight.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Big Haul!

The other day I arrived at the Mara Bagga Yorro (animal parts market) to find one of my friends and research participant with a large grin on his face.  It turned out that he had just purchased an incredible amount of new stock for his stall.  All the stock was bought from a single hunter that had traveled from Western Mali to sell his wares.  The purchase included the following:

1 Roan Antelope Hide
6 Roan Antelope horns
8 Hartebeest horns
2 Warthog heads
1 Civet head
5 Porcupine heads
7 bundles of porcupine quills
7 porcupine stomachs
10 Baboon heads                                                                                 
1 Mongoose head
5 Patas monkey heads  
2 Fish Eagle talons
7 juvenile crocodile heads
1 juvenile hyena head
1 juvenile hyena hide
1 juvenile hyena tail
10 barn owls
1 starling
2 Black cobras
3 Puff Adders
1 juvenile Savannah Monitor
40 dried chameleons
1 Jackal head
20 Bushbuck horns
15 Baboon paws
2 Duiker forelegs
4 Caracal forelegs
1 Civet hide
3 Falcons

The total paid for this haul of animal parts was 50,000cfa (roughly $105.00); a deal if there ever was one.  No wonder my friend had a big grin on his face.  

Friday, February 22, 2008

My family and I just spent a week in the small village of Jon Fa Kuru (in Western Mali).  It was a really good experience for us all - it had been some time since we had been in the rural environment.  Here are a couple of pictures of our trip.  First up is a scene of the village at dusk.

Here I spent the morning with my teacher collecting medicine.  We wandered from tree to tree out in the bush cutting bark and a few limbs.  

This would be the "bush" in western Mali.  Hot season is coming on, so much of the vegetation has been burned back.  

Here I am greeted by the mothers of my friend - they came into the compound shortly after I arrived, singing and clapping.  

In this picture we are making our way to Kita (a large town) via a fish truck.  I am riding in the back with the freight - a few Malians are also hitching a ride.  

Friday, February 8, 2008

Faunal Fashion

The Artisana specializes in filling custom orders for clients and merchants.  In the first photo you can see a leather worker finishing several belts (10 of which are made with Rock Python).  These belts are part of an order placed by a Lybian merchant.  The merchant will pick up the order in a few days once it is complete and take it to Lybia to sell.  

In this photo you can see a pair of custom made crocodile shoes.  They are being made for a Malian man (an atternoy of civil law).  He paid for the shoes up-front and will pick them up in a couple of days, once they are finished. 

In this photo you can see a leather worker preparing crocodile skin wallets.  Similar to the first example, these wallets were commissioned by a transnational merchant.  There are 17 croc skin wallets, in two different sizes.  In addition to the croc skin wallets, the merchant ordered a dozen Nile monitor skin wallets and a dozen Savannah Monitor skin wallets.

Here you can see several Rock Python skins that have been soaked and are drying in the sun.  These skins are destined to become belts, purses, wallets, and briefcases.  

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hunters go to Market

It has been a busy past couple of weeks with all sorts of people coming and going in the Marra Bagga Yoro (animal parts place).  A few of the vendors have been purchasing new stock for their stall.  Here are a few examples.  First up are a couple of hunters that have harvested several gazelle, antelope, and Civet hides.  They are trying to turn a quick buck, however the vendor who ended up buying the civet hides (5 @ 1000cfa = $12.00), got them at a steal.  

Next up is the bucket-o-vipers, believed to be juvenile saw-scale vipers.  The man brought them to the Marra Bagga Yoro looking to sell them for 20,000cfa each.  Vendors told me that they are only worth about 5000cfa each ($12.00).  And yes, they are alive.

Last up is a live Ball python.  A man collected it outside of Bamako and brought it in to sell.  One of my friends bought it, along with the head of another, for 5000cfa ($12.00)