King of the Cows

The rains have started, though they’re late and aren’t at normal levels. Even with the little rain we have gotten, cows are making their age old trek across Mali following the sprouts of grass from around Bamako  back to Sikasso (well over 300 km).

Pastoralism (the raising of animals for income) is a large sector in Mali – particularly popular in the south of Mali in the Sikasso region. In the dry season, shepherds herd their cows in groups of 10-100 from Sikasso to Bamako letting their cows graze on the last morsels of grass. Shepherds will walk all day in the blazing sun slowly moving their cows to greener pastures. Then as the rains come they make the same track back home to Sikasso, to freely graze in the vast fields of land and fatten up to live through another dry season.

TheIMG_2894se groups of cows are everywhere now! There are cows in the fields, cows on the roads, cows in the city, and cows in the villages. Every pack of Cows has a royal King. The King is stronger and more handsome then the rest. He’s picked at birth by his marking and is used to breed and guard the herd. So like the child I am, I now play “Spot the King” every time I am in the car (which is easily 5-6 times a week). It’s like the Malian version of iSpy.

So there’s your random facts on Mali for the day!


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