Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bamako Wildlife

Here are a few pictures of the wildlife that are for sale in Bamako.  The first couple of shots are of tourist goods for sale in the Artisana; a state sanctioned market that caters to the wants of travelers.  In one image you can see a variety of handbags that are fashioned using crocodile, ball python, and savannah monitor skins.  Three leopard pelts hang from the wall in another shop.  One medium-sized savannah monitor skin pocket book will cost you about $23.00.  A large leopard pelt costs about $460.00.

The later two shots are from the "Marra Bagga Yorro" (animal parts place).  This wildlife stands in stark contrast to the Artisana.   As one might imagine, the Marra Bagga Yorro is not recognized by the state, it is  illicit market.  Yet, the Marra Bagga Yorro is a key facet of Malian life.  When one is in need of medical or supernatural aid they visit the Marra Bagga Yorro to purchase culturally recognized ingredients.  For example, if you have an ear ache / infection, try a little "Ma Tulu" (oil rendered from the fat of a manatee).  The going rate for a small vial of Ma Tulu is about $8.00.   Or possibly you might be interested in the head of a Gabon viper to facilitate a curse on another.  That will cost you about $17.00.  

Though it may be hard to accept, both the Artisana and Marra Bagga Yorro are places of business.  They exist to serve a need and make a buck while doing it.   However different the markets may seem on the surface, through  an economic perspective it is readily evident that both markets function in much the same manner.  In fact, both markets are supplied through some of the same hunters.  Understanding the values associated with wildlife, the connections that they reveal between people and places, is the crux of my research. 

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