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Aidan Hartley rss

Aiden Hartley is the Spectator’s Wild Life columnist.

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Plague of pachyderms

27 January 2010

Laikipia ‘That elephant is almost human,’ my wife Claire said. ‘That,’ I replied, ‘is the problem.’ I called him Stomper. Like people, elephants are sly and voracious. When I bought… Read more

In the line of fire

14 December 2009

Laikipia ‘Let us go in amongst the cattle and talk,’ said the Councillor Jeremiah. That means a serious matter is to be discussed. It was evening, and the cattle were… Read more

Bankrupted by paradise

25 November 2009

Kiwayu Island, Kenya I came on a holiday to unwind and decompress but I have just been handed the bill and so I think I will have that heart attack… Read more

Wild Life

21 October 2009

Kuala Lumpur I dropped into Malaysia armed with F. Spencer Chapman’s anti-Japanese guerrilla war memoir The Jungle is Neutral and took his words to heart. ‘It is the attitude of… Read more

Wild Life

23 September 2009

Kenya An image I will never forget is of Ben Freeth’s three little children on the front lawn of their farmhouse west of Harare with Comrade ‘Landmine’ and his gun-toting,… Read more

Wild Life

19 August 2009

Indian Ocean As a child I wandered Kenya’s north shore beaches. On coral reefs I hunted rare cowries. The Bajunis in their outrigger canoes taught me how to fish. I… Read more

Wild Life

22 July 2009

Indian Ocean Coast I am woken at dawn by bastardised Australian and Swahili. ‘Wakey wakey hands off snakey,’ says Abo. ‘Comin’ out, malango?’ These are my surfing buddies: Daudi, Tony,… Read more

Wild Life

24 June 2009

Kenya While staying recently on a lonely farm in the Highveld east of Johannesburg, I met a grey parrot that could sing ‘Die Stem’, South Africa’s apartheid-era national anthem. That… Read more

Wild Life

27 May 2009

Zimbabwe ‘Ah, and no cake to offer you!’ Mrs H— said. ‘I would have baked one if only I’d known you were coming.’ It was teatime in Zimbabwe. A golden… Read more

Wild Life

15 April 2009

Laikipia As our farm manager Celestino Sikuku drove home with two other workers last month a gang of bandits waylaid their vehicle. It was an inside job. Somebody had revealed… Read more

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Wild Life

18 March 2009

‘Where’s Ajay?’ My producer Ed and I are making a film about India’s coalfields. ‘Ajay is busy.’ I complain, ‘But he’s our fixer. Why isn’t he out fixing things?’ In… Read more

Wild Life

18 February 2009

36,000 feet When I was a teenager on a flight to Nairobi I sat next to a pretty Kenyan girl the same age as me. We got talking. Out of… Read more

Wild Life

21 January 2009

Port-au-Prince Haiti seems almost beautiful from the air. Hillsides eroding into the Caribbean like a rained-on sandcastle. Up close I struggle to find redemption. There are cheap rum tots and… Read more

Wild life

11 December 2008

Africa I found the former President of Sierra Leone sitting beneath a mango tree outside Freetown. Valentine Strasser wore ragged shorts and nothing else, not even shoes. Sweat streamed down… Read more

What I learned from the Somali pirates

3 December 2008

Aidan Hartley says that Somali piracy is very well-organised and efficient and is opposed publicly only by militant Muslims — who may yet seize power in Mogadishu The ceaseless piracy… Read more

Wild life

26 November 2008

The Kenyan Highlands The Great Depression hit Kenya hard. European settlers were often as poor as the ordinary Africans they were supposed to lord it over. When commodity prices collapsed… Read more

Wild life

22 October 2008

Yemen For a fortnight our group has spent nights on the desert beaches east of Aden, looking out to sea. We strain to hear voices above the waves. At dawn… Read more

Wild Life

1 October 2008

Wars never get easier. Since Georgia, I have had flashbacks of an elderly woman crying her eyes out after being driven from her village by Russian bombs. When I was… Read more

Wild Life

27 August 2008

The ‘No’ republic Georgia In Gagra, where Stalin had his Black Sea dacha, a dog bit my producer Alex. Since the USSR’s collapse Gagra has been in Abkhazia, an illegal,… Read more

Wild Life

23 July 2008

Laikipia With a concussive ‘thunk’, another bird flies against our new farm house on the African plains. This happens a dozen times daily. They must be following flight paths established… Read more

On red alert

18 June 2008

‘Yaes!’ I’ll answer the phone in a falsetto Scottish accent. ‘Can ae help yay?’ If the voice is unfamiliar I lapse into Gaelic and slam down the receiver. This is… Read more

My brilliant career

21 May 2008

In the summer of 1986 I got a job as a busboy in Burger King on the Champs-Elysées. I was given a funny pair of trousers, which I was ordered… Read more

Fat cat diary

23 April 2008

Aidan Hartley on the Wild Life Nairobi I want to say Kenya is a victim of negative press. Shady characters called bloggers are nicknaming the President’s new Peace cabinet of ministers… Read more

Rural poor

26 March 2008

Laikipia Gabriel Barasa was a week dead and already trouble was brewing. I could tell that as I stood at his grave on the farmstead. In 1966, Kenya’s government allocated… Read more

Ambushed in Somalia

20 February 2008

As we entered the old city, the heat shimmered off coral towers half reduced to rubble by cycles of war. We had just exited Mogadishu’s presidential palace after a morning’s… Read more