Aidan Hartley rss

Aiden Hartley is the Spectator’s Wild Life columnist.


Last season

28 August 2010

Kenya Our surfing gang — average age 50 — are out in the bay again, dodging sewage, bull sharks and even, earlier this season, a pirate’s corpse. The waves are… Read more


Friendly fire

31 July 2010

Laikipia, Kenya My cousin Charlie Williams is a young Irish Guards captain about to deploy in Afghanistan. The other day he came to stay on our farm in Kenya’s highlands… Read more


Battle lines

30 June 2010

South Africa Rarely is Jonathan Clayton, the Times man in Africa, far from the front lines — but this month when I stayed at his Johannesburg house the battlefield came… Read more


Let’s do business

2 June 2010

Tanzania Here’s this Chinese guy in the midday sun. Straw hat, faggy in his mouth, bright eyes, tanned face. I feel like crying. We’re in the middle of nowhere and… Read more

White-knuckle ride

12 May 2010

Rainy Season on the Cattle Stock Route From the side of the track, a Samburu youth waved me down. I stopped the vehicle. He was gorgeously dressed for market day:… Read more


Let’s have an adventure

14 April 2010

Colombian jungle The first day I was in Bogota I saw a big yellow bus speeding by, full of old-aged pensioners dancing Salsa. I knew I was going to like… Read more


Shooting the breeze

24 March 2010

Malindi, Kenya I’m at Malindi’s Driftwood beach bar, nursing a Tusker beer. I’m gazing at the Indian Ocean. The day was hot: 110 in the shade. Now at dusk, a… Read more

Will China kill all Africa’s elephants?

24 March 2010

At first he was coy. ‘Yes my brother,’ Salim the dealer smirked. ‘How many kilos you want?’ It had taken us only a day to find a man in Tanzania… Read more


Entrance exam

24 February 2010

Before disembarking at Bulawayo airport I stuffed the book I was reading in the front-seat pocket. It was Peter Godwin’s fine When a Crocodile Eats the Sun. I did not… Read more


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


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