What does a video about a desert region of China have to do with Niger?

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A YouTube map that shows where people are when they view the videos. That the video might be of interest to a dry country like Niger – where herding of goats and other livestock is so important – is not so surprising.

A colleague of mine recently sent a link to a group of us showing some photos taken in Inner Mongolia, China, showing the land degradation being suffered there and its impacts.  One of the photos (#16) shows a twisted and broken tree trunk surrounded by sand on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert. The caption says that the trees were “killed by the moving sands.” I have a different take on it.

The picture shows what is probably a Euphrates Poplar, and I would suggest that the trees were probably killed by its surface roots becoming roasted after herds of goats and other livestock ate the trees' fallen leaves. These leaves would normally act as a natural insulation layer and mulch, and over time quite a number of plants grow in the shade and protection.  With the trees steadily roasted, so the whole area degrades and the sand blows in.  You can see one of the World Bank’s senior agriculturalists, Rick Chisholm, explaining this in the first of my two YouTube videos on Lake Aibi in northwest, Xinjiang, China.  (Go straight to 8m 30s on the time line to see the specific segment).

Although I reckon I’m a fairly savvy individual when it comes to the web, the first time I had noticed the Statistics and Data section beneath the YouTube videos was when I was checking where the specific segment was. Well, I learned that my video had not gone the way of the sneezing panda or the lit sheep art, but I’m hardly surprised. But at the bottom of Statistics and Data section is a map which shows where people are when they view the videos.  So, what’s up in Niger?

The United States and China are colored rather pale green, quite a lot of countries are even paler. But there, right in the middle of Africa, is the dark green shape of Niger.  That the video and the blog it is attached to might be of interest to such a dry country – where herding of goats and other livestock is so important – is not so surprising.  But I am continually amazed at the power of the internet in the exchange of information and ideas.

Interestingly, it seems that no one in Niger has watched the sneezing panda.


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