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Recent Work: Western Sahara

Morocco, April 2024:


My first visit to Western Sahara had originally been planned for April 2020. The Covid pandemic prevented this from happening and re-scheduling this expedition took quite some time with many other photographic projects requiring updated planning. Malini ventured on a reconnaissance excursion in 2022 and found all the species we had hoped for: Sand cat, African wildcat, Fennec fox, Ruppell's fox, Pharaoh eagle-owl, horned viper, and many of the cute and highly specialised rodents of the Sahara. When we (Malini Pittet, Ben Cranke, and I) started to prepare for the April 2024 trip, we were informed by the ground team that the areas we planned to visit around Bougouffa, Aousserd, and Bir Anzarane had not received any rain in the previous 20 months, resulting in a very different dynamic from what Malini had encountered almost two years ago.

We decided that we would travel to Dakhla anyway, enjoy a desert camping adventure, and photograph whatever wildlife we would encounter. Photographing desert wildlife in the Sahara is quite demanding, as days must be spent resting and getting as much sleep as possible in the roasting-hot tents. Wildlife becomes active after dark. This meant we would head out in two SUVs with spotlights, starting at around 21:00h each night, and staying out until early morning hours. It took a bit of time to get the team synchronised on how to approach wildlife once we spotted eye reflections. I will write a bit more about this in an upcoming blog.

The endless sand and gravel plains, dunes, and rocky outcrops of Western Sahara support marginal but wonderfully diverse wildlife. We were privileged to observe African wildcats (my best observation so far), Fennec fox, Rüppell's fox, African golden wolf, honey badger, savanna hare, Cape hare, Pharaoh eagle-owl, horned viper, lesser Egyptian jerboas, various gerbils, several different species of larks, and other special birds. The Sand cat - our main objective - we unfortunately did not find. However, we learned a lot about the land and what to prepare for future visits to search and photograph this species. As I had expected, the desert landscape in itself proofed to be most spectacular and added wonderful impressions to this gallery.

I hope you enjoy the photographic results from this excursion!

© Patrick Meier -

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