Aidan Hartley rss

Aiden Hartley is the Spectator’s Wild Life columnist.

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Why I dream of the Great Wall of China

18 July 2015

Laikipia A quarter of a century ago I met two young South African men who had ridden their ponies 1,700 miles from the Kalahari desert to Kenya. They were on… Read more

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The Shrewsbury School Hunt very nearly killed me

20 June 2015

Laikipia, Kenya   Out cross-country running on the farm in Kenya recently, I came face-to-face with a gang of bull elephants. I zigzagged away from them, keeping downwind, jogged on… Read more

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The Kenya Fly Fishers’ club makes the Bullingdon look rather left-wing

23 May 2015

   Nairobi Trout were first introduced into Kenya’s highland streams in 1905. Men like Ewart Grogan, ‘baddest and boldest of a bad bold gang’, shipped Loch Leven fingerlings in ice-packed… Read more

Samburu tribesman swapped spears for rocks

I am grateful to my surgeon for saving one of my limbs when a mob of Samburu tribesmen attacked me

25 April 2015

 Laikipia When I was a boy in Devon we had an orchard. On a string of autumns, as the fruit ripened, the orchard became a battlefield of apples between my… Read more

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The warrior arched his body, readying to sling his spear at my chest

28 March 2015

 Laikipia With a shriek, the warrior arched his body, readying to sling his spear at my chest. The tear-dropped javelin point flashed in the sun. In the heat, dust swirled… Read more

Hope springs eternal: a 1954 Morris Minor at a Catholic mission station in Moipo, South Sudan

Having oozed optimism for a decade, I am a bit down about the Hopeful Continent

14 February 2015

Juba I discovered a 1954 Morris Minor parked outside the Catholic mission station in Mopoi, South Sudan. The car had been there for so long that a guava tree was… Read more

Meals on wheels Photo: Getty

I want to do for field rations what Jamie Oliver did for school dinners

17 January 2015

Hell’s Kitchen My ambition to open a fish and chip shop in Mogadishu has not happened yet, though I remain optimistic. Food, I’ve decided, is the thing to go for… Read more

The parks are empty and the landscapes are yours

If you want a real safari, head to Botswana

3 January 2015

As a boy camping with my father on safaris deep in the African bush, there were no tents involved; we just slept by the fire like cowboys in the open… Read more

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I cannot imagine living in a world without lions

13 December 2014

Laikipia We are privileged to live with lions on the farm. We hear them most nights. We encounter them frequently. Out walking last month, I sensed four lions the instant… Read more

The people who want me not to believe what I saw in Rwanda

22 November 2014

Kenya It’s a long time since I thought of Thaddee, our Kigali stringer when I was covering Rwanda for Reuters. I remembered him because a recent fashion in western universities… Read more

Maasai People Struggle As Kenya Declares Drought Emergency

What happened when I tried to buy back my father's farm

25 October 2014

 Kenya I perused the brochure produced by Tanzania’s state corporation for livestock ranching, aimed at attracting foreign investors. Under ‘beef production’ was a photo of an American bison. Tanzania’s state… Read more

From Burma — or maybe Saigon — to Manchester via Calcutta

27 September 2014

England   We dropped off our daughter Eve at her new school in the Midlands and started the long journey home to Africa. On the train we sat down and… Read more

A British patrol advancing along the Waw river, Burma Photo: Getty

The forgotten flank of the forgotten corps of the Forgotten Army

6 September 2014
Another Man’s War Barnaby Phillips

One World, pp.313, £20, ISBN: 9781780745220

The British who fought in Burma became known as the ‘Forgotten Army’ because this was a neglected theatre of the second world war. Barnaby Phillips’s tale is about the African… Read more

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It's time for Kenya to put aside dreams of singing wells and dancing bulls

30 August 2014

Laikipia   ‘Good morning, sir!’ The warrior strides up to me on the high plains and shakes my hand. ‘May I traverse your farm? I thought it impolite not to… Read more

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Climbing Mount Kenya with my 13-year-old daughter

19 July 2014

 Kenya Highlands I’ve just descended Mount Kenya with Eve, my 13-year-old daughter, and her class of school leavers from Pembroke House. Afterwards our guide Steve, an ex-Grenadier guardsman, emailed me… Read more

TO GO WITH AFP STORY By Jean-Marc Mojon

Please take your holiday in Kenya this year

21 June 2014

 Rift Valley Many of my British tribe fled Kenya around independence in 1963 because they believed there was no future. Gerald Hanley, an Irish novelist who knew the country, forecast… Read more

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The books that have kept me alive

24 May 2014

In bed Safety measures — I’ve never been good at them, so inevitably I inhaled and got soaked by the toxic agricultural chemical I was out spraying on a windy… Read more

A Somali government soldier at the site of car bomb blast in front of the Makka Al Mukarrama Hotel in Mogadishu,  March 15, 2014

Hunted in Mogadishu by the Sick Man and the Jilbab

26 April 2014

From a way off, as he entered the café, he looked young and handsome but when he sat down there was something wrong in that face. He moved like a… Read more

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Before you talk about 'Lessons from Rwanda', read this

5 April 2014

In Rwanda I was an ant walking over the rough hide of an elephant — this time 20 years ago I had no idea of the scale of what I… Read more

A £50 million search for love

29 March 2014

 Laikipia When I first knew Michael Cunningham-Reid he was such a strict teetotaller that he would not eat trifle for pudding in case there was sherry in it. For years,… Read more

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Jubilant greetings to you, Celestino! How is the atmospheric pressure in your corner? 

15 February 2014

 Laikipia ‘I am old and cannot work again,’ said Celestino. ‘But you are 46 and we have many years to go.’ ‘No. Working for you has made me blind.’ ‘We… Read more

The greater the risk, the greater the reward

I don't love money, but I love the risks it makes me take

18 January 2014

On the flight into Kinshasa, I sat next to an elderly Englishman who was pallid with fear. He revealed that he was a bankrupt who was determined to survive by… Read more

Cattle Rustlers

Aidan Hartley: If Santa Claus tried to make a delivery, he’d be shot before he reached the chimney

14 December 2013

Laikipia In the cattle rustlers’ camp, I know as I write this that the warriors are sharpening their blades, staring down the dirty barrels of their rifles, and loading their… Read more

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Aidan Hartley: Kenya is special like no other African nation

16 November 2013

As I write this, my hands are seared and bruised from holding a hot iron after branding our cattle. We have castrated our steers and piled up the testicles on… Read more

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Menkaure

The only people thriving in post-revolution Egypt — tomb raiders

9 November 2013

 Cairo Hook nose, blue chin, Arab headdress: the tomb robber resembled a villain from a Tintin comic. His friend was packing a big pistol and behind them it was sunset… Read more