The Aïr Mountains or Aïr Massif is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara Desert. Part of the West Saharan montane xeric woodlands ecoregion, they rise to more than 1,800 m and extend over 84,000 km2. Lying in the midst of desert north of the 17th parallel, the Aïr plateau, with an average altitude between 500 and 900 m, forms an island of Sahel climate which supports a wide variety of life, many pastoral and farming communities, dramatic geological and archaeological sites. There are notable archaeological excavations in the region that illustrate the prehistoric past of this region; the endangered painted hunting dog once existed in this region, but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region. The Precambrian to Cenozoic Aïr Mountains consist of peralkaline granite intrusions which appear dark in colour. In the Sahara Desert such mountains stand out in stark relief as topographic heights amidst lowlands covered by sand; the terrain consists of high plateau, mountain ranges, broad, sandy valleys and seasonal wadis which once contained rivers.
Areas of these deep intersecting, valleys contain waterborne clay and silt deposits. Underground watercourses in some of these valleys continue to provide year-round oasis and seasonal vegetation; the Aïr mountains themselves consist of nine circular massifs rising from a rocky plateau, bordered by the sand dunes and plain of the Ténéré Desert to the east. The massif is a plateau consisting of a sub-Cambrian age erosion surface on Precambrian metamorphic rocks, punctuated by a series of flat-topped, granite intrusion peaks, which include Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès, Mont Tamgak, Mont Greboun, Adrar Bous, Chirriet, Agueraguer and Goundai; the massif contains volcanic features including the extinct caldera of Arakao, Cenozoic lava flows of hawaiite to trachyte composition, volcanic cones, tuff rings and one of the largest ring dike systems in the world. At Izouzaoenehe, lie the marble Blue Mountains, the lower Zagado valley is surrounded by white marble hills. Carboniferous sandstone and coal units in the Iullemmeden Basin just to the west of the massif contain uranium mineralisation sourced from the granites of the massif.
Because of its altitude and despite its low rainfall, the Aïr forms a green region in comparison with the surrounding deserts after the August–September seasonal rains. The climate is classified like that of the regions well to its south. While the mountains are bare of vegetation, the dry wadi river valleys channel and hold rainwater in gueltas, creating oases which provide forage for animals, in some areas, farming; the high Bagzane plateau of the central Aïr in particular provides adequate rainfall for intensive agriculture. Other, areas of the region are devoid of plant life and with their volcanic protrusions and rock fields present an otherworldly appearance. More than 430 vascular species has been recorded so far in the Aïr mountains; the location of the Aïr as a southern extension of the Hoggar mountain range makes it a connection between the Saharan Flora and the Sahelian Flora. However, the presence of mountains up to 2000 m a.s.l. Generates locally favourable conditions for several species of the Sudanian zone and the Mediterranean zone.
During the 20th century a series of scientific missions in the Aïr has permitted to identify the majority of plant species developing in the Aïr. Acacia tortilis subsp. Raddiana and Balanites aegyptiaca are among the most frequent tree species in the intermountain zone. In the vicinity of temporary rivers named koris, species like Acacia nilotica, Faidherbia albida and the palm Hyphaene thebaica coexist with planted date palms Phoenix dactylifera. Severe droughts and high aridity have made the intermountain zone of the Aïr a harsh place for plants to develop; the additional presence of domestic herbivores has led to a severe deficit in tree regeneration, cited as a major ecological concern. Tree regeneration has been observed enhanced as soon as tree seedlings are protected by large tussocks of the frequent grass Panicum turgidum; this positive interaction between plants represents a promising restoration tool to be used by local inhabitants. In comparison, mountainous areas are less documented.
Tropical tree species less resistant to drought have been described in the highlands, among which the Fabaceae Acacia laeta and Acacia seyal. Quezel has observed the remnant presence of a rare endemic taxon related to the olive tree in the northern sector of the Aïr range; this taxon, Olea europaea subsp. Laperrinei, has been found in other mountains of the Aïr: these isolated, small populations represent the southern limit of the species distribution. A study led on the slopes of the highest summit in the Aïr, Idoukal’N’Taghes, identified plant species that had never been inventoried in Niger before. Among them, Pachycymbium decaisneanum, Cleome aculeata, Echinops mildbraedii and Indigofera nummularia are tropical species with low resistance to water stress, whereas Silene lynesii, Tephrosia elegans, Echinops mildbraedii have a Saharan-Mediterranean distribution. Three ferns were found for the first time in the Aïr Cheilanthes coriacea, Actiniopteris radiata, Ophioglossum polyphyllum, suggesting that ferns may be more prone to de
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition in Africa between the Sahara to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south. Having a semi-arid climate, it stretches across the south-central latitudes of Northern Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea; the name is derived from the Arabic word sāḥil meaning "coast" or "shore" in a figurative sense, while the name in Swahili means "coastal " in a literal sense. The Sahel part of Africa includes parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the extreme south of Algeria, the extreme north of Nigeria, central Chad and southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia; the western part of the Sahel was sometimes known as the Sudan region. This belt was located between the Sahara and the coastal areas of West Africa; the Sahel spans 5,400 km from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, in a belt that varies from several hundred to a thousand kilometers in width, covering an area of 3,053,200 square kilometers.
It is a transitional ecoregion of semi-arid grasslands, savannas and thorn shrublands lying between the wooded Sudanian Savanna to the south and the Sahara to the north. The topography of the Sahel is flat. Several isolated plateaus and mountain ranges rise from the Sahel, but are designated as separate ecoregions because their flora and fauna are distinct from the surrounding lowlands. Annual rainfall varies from around 100–200 mm in the north of the Sahel to around 600 mm in the south; the Sahel is covered in grassland and savanna, with areas of woodland and shrubland. Grass cover is continuous across the region, dominated by annual grass species such as Cenchrus biflorus, Schoenefeldia gracilis and Aristida stipoides. Species of acacia are the dominant trees, with Acacia tortilis the most common, along with Acacia senegal and Acacia laeta. Other tree species include Commiphora africana, Balanites aegyptiaca, Faidherbia albida, Boscia senegalensis. In the northern part of the Sahel, areas of desert shrub, including Panicum turgidum and Aristida sieberana, alternate with areas of grassland and savanna.
During the long dry season, many trees lose the predominantly annual grasses die. The Sahel was home to large populations of grazing mammals, including the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle, Dorcas gazelle, red-fronted gazelle, the giant prehistoric buffalo and Bubal hartebeest, along with large predators like the African wild dog, the Northwest African cheetah, the Northeast African cheetah, the lion; the larger species have been reduced in number by over-hunting and competition with livestock, several species are vulnerable, endangered, or extinct. The seasonal wetlands of the Sahel are important for migratory birds moving within Africa and on the African-Eurasian flyways; the Sahel has a hot steppe climate. The climate is hot, sunny and somewhat windy all year long; the Sahel's climate is similar to, but less extreme than, the climate of the Sahara desert located just to the north. The Sahel receives a low to a low amount of precipitation annually; the steppe has a long, prevailing dry season and a short rainy season.
The precipitation is extremely irregular, varies from season to season. Most of the rain falls during only one or two months, while the other months may remain dry; the entire Sahel region receives between 100 mm and 600 mm of rain yearly. A system of subdivisions adopted for the Sahelian climate based on annual rainfall is as follows: the Saharan-Sahelian climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 100 and 200 mm, the strict Sahelian climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 200 and 600 mm and the Sahelian-Sudanese climate, with mean annual precipitation between around 200 and 400 mm; the relative humidity in the steppe is low to low between 10% and 25% during the dry season and between 25% and 75% during the rainy season. The least humid places have a relative humidity under 35%; the Sahel is characterized with an unvarying temperature. The Sahel experiences cold temperatures. During the hottest period, the average high temperatures are between 36 and 42 °C for more than three months, while the average low temperatures are around 25 to 31 °C.
During the "coldest period", the average high temperatures are between 27 and 33 °C and the average low temperature are between 15 and 21 °C. Everywhere in the Sahel, the average mean temperature is over 18 °C due to the tropical climate; the Sahel has a high to high sunshine duration year-round, between 2,700 hours and 3,500 hours. The sunshine duration in the S
A camel train or caravan is a series of camels carrying passengers and/or goods on a regular or semi-regular service between points. Although they travelled faster than the walking speed of a person, camels' ability to withstand harsh conditions made them ideal for communication and trade in the desert areas of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula for centuries. Camel trains were used sparingly elsewhere around the globe. Since the early 20th century they have been replaced by motorized vehicles or air traffic. By far the greatest use of camel trains occurs between North and West Africa by the Tuareg and Hassaniyya, as well as by culturally-affiliated groups like the Toubou and Songhay; these camel trains conduct trade around the Sahara Desert and Sahel. Trains travel as far south as central Nigeria and northern Cameroon in the west, northern Kenya in the east of the continent. In antiquity, the Arabian Peninsula was an important route for the trade with Abyssinia. Camel trains have long been used in portions of trans-Asian trade, including the Silk Road.
As late as the early twentieth century, camel caravans played an important role connecting the Beijing/Shanxi region of eastern China with Mongolian centers and Xinjiang. The routes went across Inner and/or Outer Mongolia. According to Owen Lattimore, who spent five months in 1926 crossing the northern edge of China with a camel caravan, demand for caravan trade was only increased by the arrival of foreign steamships into Chinese ports and the construction of the first railways in eastern China, as they improved access to the world market for such products of western China as wool. In the English-speaking world the term "camel train" applies to Australia, notably the service that once connected a railhead at Oodnadatta in South Australia to Alice Springs in the center of the continent; the service ended when the train line was extended to Alice Springs in 1929. United States The history of camel trains in the United States consists of an experiment by the United States Army. On April 29, 1856, thirty-three camels and five drivers arrived at Texas.
While camels were suited to the job of transport in the American Southwest, the experiment failed. Their stubbornness and aggressiveness made them unpopular among soldiers, they frightened horses. Many of the camels were sold to private owners, others escaped into the desert; these feral camels continued to be sighted through the early 20th century, with the last reported sighting in 1941 near Douglas, Texas. British Columbia, Canada Camels were used from 1862 to 1863 in British Columbia, Canada during the Cariboo Gold Rush. While organization of camel caravans varied over time and the territory traversed, Owen Lattimore's account of caravan life in northern China in the 1920s gives a good idea of what camel transport is like. In his Desert Road to Turkestan he describes camel caravans run by Han Chinese and Hui firms from eastern China or Xinjiang, plying the routes connecting those two regions through the Gobi Desert by way of Inner Mongolia. Before Outer Mongolia's effective independence of China the same firms ran caravans into Urga and other centers of Outer Mongolia, to the Russian border at Kyakhta, but with the creation of an international border, those routes came into decline.
Less important caravan routes served various other areas of northern China, such as most centers in today's Gansu and northern Qinghai. Some of the oldest Hohhot-based caravan firms had a history dating to the early Qing Dynasty. Caravans originating from both ends of the Hohhot-Gucheng route were composed of two-humped Bactrian camels, suitable for the climate on the area, although occasionally one could see single-humped Dromedaries brought to this route by Uighur caravan people from Hami A caravan would be composed of a number of files, of up to 18 camels each; each of the rank-and-file caravan men, known as the camel-pullers, was in charge of one such file. On the march, the camel-puller's job was to lead the first camel of his file by a rope tied to a peg attached to its nose, each of the other camels of the file being led by means of similar rope by the camel in front of it. Two files formed a ba, the camel-pullers of the two files would help each other when loading cargo on the camels at the beginning of each day's march or unloading it when halted.
To do their job properly camel-pullers had to be experts on camels: as Lattimore comments, "because there is no good doctoring known for him when he is sick, they must learn how to keep him well." Taking care of camels' health included the ability to find the best available grazing for them and keeping them away from poisonous plants. The loading of camels was described by Mildred Cable and Francesca French in their book Through Jade Gate and Central Asia: «In the loading of a camel its grumblings commence as the first bale is placed on its back, continue uninterruptedly until the load is equal to its strength, but as soon as
Niger or the Niger the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria to the northwest. Niger covers a land area of 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert; the country's predominantly Islamic population of about 21 million live in clusters in the far south and west of the country. The capital city is Niamey, located in Niger's southwest corner. Niger is a developing country, which ranks near the bottom in the United Nations' Human Development Index. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification; the economy is concentrated around subsistence, with some export agriculture in the more fertile south, export of raw materials uranium ore. Niger faces serious challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, inefficient agriculture, high fertility rates without birth control, the resulting overpopulation, the poor educational level and poverty of its people, lack of infrastructure, poor healthcare, environmental degradation.
Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their short period living in a single state. What is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule. After the military coup in 2010, Niger became a multi-party state. A majority of the population lives in rural areas, have little access to advanced education. Early human settlement in Niger is evidenced by numerous archaeological remains. In prehistoric times, the climate of the Sahara was wet and provided favorable conditions for agriculture and livestock herding in a fertile grassland environment five thousand years ago. In 2005–06, a graveyard in the Ténéré desert was discovered by Paul Sereno, a paleontologist from the University of Chicago, his team discovered 5,000-year-old remains of two children in the Ténéré Desert. The evidence along with remains of animals that do not live in desert are among the strongest evidence of the'green' Sahara in Niger.
It is believed that progressive desertification around 5000 BC pushed sedentary populations to the south and south-east. By at least the 5th century BC, Niger had become an area of trans-Saharan trade, led by the Berber tribes from the north, who used camels as a well-adapted means of transportation through the desert; this trade made Agadez a pivotal place of the trans-Saharan trade. This mobility, which would continue in waves for several centuries, was accompanied with further migration to the south and interbreeding between southern black and northern white populations, it was aided by the introduction of Islam to the region at the end of the 7th century. Several empires and kingdoms flourished during this era, up to the beginning of colonization in Africa; the Songhai Empire was an empire bearing the name of its main ethnic group, the Songhai or Sonrai, located in western Africa on the bend of the Niger River in present-day Niger and Burkina Faso. In the 7th century, Songhai tribes settled down north of modern-day Niamey and founded the Songhai city-states of Koukia and Gao.
By the 11th century, Gao had become the capital of the Songhai Empire. From 1000 to 1325, The Songhai Empire prospered and managed to maintain peace with its neighboring empires including the Mali Empire. In 1325 the Songhai Empire was conquered by the Mali Empire but was freed in 1335 by prince Ali Kolen and his brother, Songhai princes held captive by Moussa Kankan, the ruler of the Mali Empire. From the mid-15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history. Between the Niger River and Lake Chad lay Hausa kingdoms and fertile areas; these kingdoms flourished from the mid-14th century up until the early 19th century, when they were conquered by Usman dan Fodio, founder of the Sokoto Empire. The Hausa kingdoms were not a compact entity but several federations of kingdoms more or less independent of one other, their organization was somewhat democratic: the Hausa kings were elected by the notables of the country and could be removed by them. The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded according to the Bayajidda legend by the six sons of Bawo.
Bawo was the only son of the Hausa queen Bayajidda or who came from Baghdad. The seven original Hausa states were: Daoura, Rano, Gobir and Biram; the Mali Empire was a Mandinka empire founded by Sundiata Keita circa 1230 that existed up to 1600. At its peak circa 1350, the empire extended as far west as Senegal and Guinee Conakry and as far east as western Niger; the Kanem-Bornu Empire was an empire that existed in modern-day Chad, Cameroon and Libya. The empire first existed and prospered as the Kanem Empire as early as the 9th century and as the Kingdom of Bornu until 1900. In the 19th century, contact with Europe began with the first European explorers—notably Monteil and Barth —to travel to Niger. Following the 1885 Berlin conference during which colonial powers outlined the division of Africa into colonial spheres, French military efforts to conquer existing African states were intensified in all French colo
A salt mine is a mine from which salt is extracted. The mined salt is in the form of halite, extracted from evaporite formations. Before the advent of the modern internal combustion engine and earth-moving equipment, mining salt was one of the most expensive and dangerous of operations, due to rapid dehydration caused by constant contact with the salt, among other problems borne of accidental excessive sodium intake. While salt is now plentiful, until the Industrial Revolution it was difficult to come by, salt mining was done by slave or prison labor and life expectancy among those sentenced was low. In ancient Rome, salt on the table was a mark of a rich patron; the Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated as an aside in his Natural History's discussion of sea water, that "n Rome... the soldier's pay was salt and the word'salary' derives from it..."Ancient China was among the earliest civilizations in the world with cultivation and trade of salt mining. They first discovered natural gas; the Chinese writer and politician Zhang Hua of the Jin Dynasty wrote in his book Bowuzhi how people in Zigong, Sichuan excavated natural gas and used it to boil a rock salt solution.
The ancient Chinese mastered and advanced the techniques of producing salt. Salt mining was an arduous task for the ancient Chinese, who faced geographical and technological constraints. Salt was extracted from the sea, salt works in the coastal areas in late imperial China equated to more than 80 percent of national production. In conjunction with this, the Chinese made use of natural crystallization of salt lakes and constructed some artificial evaporation basins close to shore. In 1041, during the medieval Song dynasty, a well with a diameter about the size of a bowl and several dozen feet deep was drilled for salt production. In Southwestern China, natural salt deposits were mined with bores that could reach to a depth of more than 1000 meters but the yields of ground and salt were low; as salt was a necessity of life for human civilization, salt mining played a pivotal role as one of the most important sources of Imperial Chinese government revenue and state development. Most modern salt mines are operated or operated by large multinational companies such as K+S, AkzoNobel and Compass Minerals.
Some notable salt mines include: Salt minesKhewra Schacht Asse II Turda Wieliczka WindsorGeneralSalt evaporation pond Brine mining Injection well Salt lake Salt dome Miner JMS Salt - production site
The Kaocen revolt was a Tuareg rebellion against French colonial rule of the area around the Aïr Mountains of northern Niger during 1916–17. Ag Mohammed Wau Teguidda Kaocen was the Tuareg leader of the rising against the French. An adherent to the militantly anti-French Sanusiya Sufi religious order, Kaocen was the Amenokal of the Ikazkazan Tuareg confederation. Kaocen had engaged in numerous indecisive, attacks on French colonial forces from at least 1909; when the Sanusiya leadership in the Fezzan oasis town of Kufra declared a Jihad against the French colonialists in October 1914, Kaocen rallied his forces. Tagama, the Sultan of Agadez had convinced the French military that the Tuareg confederations remained loyal, with his help, Kaocen's forces placed the garrison under siege on 17 December 1916. Tuareg raiders, numbering over 1,000, led by Kaocen and his brother Mokhtar Kodogo, armed with repeating rifles and one cannon seized from the Italians in Libya, defeated several French relief columns.
They seized all the major towns of the Aïr, including Ingall, Assodé, Aouderas, placing what is today northern Niger under rebel control for over three months. On 3 March 1917, a large French force dispatched from Zinder relieved the Agadez garrison, began to seize the rebel towns. Large scale French reprisals were taken against these towns against local marabouts though many were neither Tuareg nor supported the rebellion. Summary public executions by the French in Agadez and Ingal alone totaled 130. Tuareg rebels carried out a number of atrocities. While Kaocen fled north, he was hanged by local forces in Mourzouk in 1919, while Kodogo was not killed by the French until 1920, when a revolt he led amongst the Toubou and Fula in the Sultanate of Damagaram was defeated; the revolt led by Kaocen was just one episode in a history of recurring conflict between some Tuareg confederations and the French. In 1911, a rising of Firhoun, Amenokal of Ikazkazan was crushed in Ménaka, only to reappear in northeast Mali after his escape from French custody in 1916.
Many Tuareg groups had continually fought the French since their arrival in the last decade of the 19th century. Others were driven to revolt by the severe drought of the years 1911–14, by French taxation and seizure of camels to aid other conquests, by French abolition of the slave trade, leading many subservient settled communities of the area to themselves revolt against traditional rule and taxation by the nomadic Tuareg. Memory of the revolt and the killings in its wake remain fresh in the minds of modern Tuareg, to whom it is seen as both part of a large anti-colonial struggle, amongst some as part of the post independence struggle for autonomy from the existing governments of Niger and its neighbors; the Kaocen revolt can be placed in a longer history of Tuareg conflict with ethnic Songhay and Hausa in the south central Sahara which goes back to at least the seizure of Agadez by the Songhay Empire in 1500 CE, or the first migrations of Berber Tuaregs south into the Aïr in the 11th to 13th centuries CE.
Conflicts have persisted since independence, with major Tuareg risings in Mali's Adrar des Ifoghas during 1963–64, the 1990s insurgencies in both Mali and Niger, a renewed series of insurgencies beginning in the mid-2000s. Military operations in North Africa during World War I Samuel Decalo. Historical Dictionary of Niger. Scarecrow Press and New Jersey. ISBN 0-8108-1229-0 Jolijn Geels. Niger. Bradt London and Globe Pequot New York. ISBN 1-84162-152-8. J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver; the Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge University Press, p199. ISBN Kimba Idrissa. "The Kawousan War reconsidered" in Rethinking Resistance: Revolt and Violence in African History, Jon Abbink, Mirjam de Bruijn and Klaus van Walraven and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2003, 191-217 Finn Fuglestad. "Les révoltes des Touaregs du Niger". In Cahiers d'études africaines - 049, pp. 82–121, Mouton - École des hautes études en sciences sociales. Ali Salifou, "Kawousan ou la révolte sénoussiste", Études nigériennes n° 33 Cartogracy: Tuareg Independence Movement The Kawousan War reconsidered
Taoudenni is a remote salt mining center in the desert region of northern Mali, 664 km north of Timbuktu. It is the capital of Taoudénit Region; the salt is dug by hand from the bed of an ancient salt lake, cut into slabs, transported either by truck or by camel to Timbuktu. The camel caravans from Taoudenni are some of the last. In the late 1960s, during the regime of Moussa Traoré, a prison was built at the site and the inmates forced to work in the mines; the prison was closed in 1988. The earliest mention of Taoudenni is by al-Sadi, in his Tarikh al-Sudan, who wrote that in 1586 when Moroccan forces attacked the salt mining center of Taghaza some of the miners moved to'Tawdani'. In 1906 the French soldier Édouard Cortier visited Taoudenni with a unit of the camel corps and published the first description of the mines. At the time the only building was the Ksar de Smida, which had a surrounding wall with a single small entrance on the western side; the ruins of the ksar are 600 m north of the prison building.
The Taoudenni mines are located on the bed of an ancient salt lake. The miners use crude axes to dig pits, which measure 5 m by 5 m with a depth of 4 m; the miners first remove 1.5 m of red clay overburden several layers of poor quality salt before reaching three layers of high quality salt. The salt is cut into irregular slabs that are around 110 cm x 45 cm by 5 cm in thickness and weigh around 30 kg. Two of the high quality layers are of sufficient thickness to be split in half, so that 5 slabs can be produced from the three layers. Having removed the salt from the base area of the pit, the miners excavate horizontally to create galleries from which additional slabs can be obtained; as each pit is exhausted another is dug, so there are now thousands of pits spread over a wide area. Over the centuries salt has been extracted from three distinct areas of the depression, with each successive area located further to the south west; the three areas can be seen on satellite photographs. At the time of Édouard Cortier's visit in 1906 the mining area was 3 km south of the ksar.
In 2007-2008 there were around 350 teams of miners, with each team consisting of an experienced miner with 2 labourers, giving a total of around 1000 men. The men live in primitive huts constructed from blocks of inferior quality salt and work at the mines from October to April, avoiding the hottest months of the year, when only about 10 of them remain; the slabs are transported across the desert via the oasis of Araouane to Timbuktu. In the past they were always carried by camel, but some of the salt has been moved by four-wheel drive trucks. By camel the journey to Timbuktu takes around three weeks, with each camel carrying either four or five slabs; the typical arrangement is that for each four slabs transported to Timbuktu, one is for the miners and the other three are payment for the camel owners. Up to the middle of the 20th century the salt was transported in two large camel caravans, one leaving Timbuktu in early November and a second leaving Timbuktu in late March, at the end of the season.
Horace Miner, an American anthropologist who spent seven months in the town, estimated that in 1939-40 the winter caravan consisted of more than 4,000 camels and that the total production amounted to 35,000 slabs of salt. Jean Clauzel records that the number of slabs reaching Timbuktu increased from 10,515 in 1926 to 160,000 in 1957-1958. However, in the early 1970s the production decreased, at the end of the decade was between 50,000 and 70,000 slabs. A military post and a prison were built at Taoudenni in 1969 during the regime of Moussa Traoré; the prison was used to detain political prisoners until 1988. Many of the prisoners were government officials, accused of plotting against the regime; the prisoners worked in the salt mines and many of them died. To the east of the ruins of the prison building is a cemetery containing 140 individual graves, of which only a dozen have names, they include: Yoro Diakité, head of the first provisional government following the coup of 19 November 1968, who died in 1973.
Tiécoro Bagayoko, head of security services from 1968 to 1978, who died in August 1983. Kissima Doukara, Minister of Defence 1968-1978. Youssouf Balla Sylla, police chief of the 3rd Arrondissement of Bamako. Jean Bolon Samaké, head of the Goundam Cercle in 1969, who died in 1973. Taoudenni is a remote site in the hottest region on the planet, located over a hundred miles from the nearest inhabited location of any size; the region is located in the middle of the Sahara Desert, in the southern part of the Tanezrouft, features an extreme version of the hot desert climate. The region features a hyper-arid climate with unbroken sunshine all year-long. Averages high temperatures exceed 40℃ from April to September and reach an extreme peak of 48℃ in July, the highest value for such an elevation above sea level. Winters are very warm compared to the world average. High temperatures average close to 27℃ in the coolest month; the mean annual daily temperature is among the highest in the world. The annual average rainfall is between 10 mm and 20 mm which falls from July to October.
On average, Taoudenni sees 3,700 hours of bright sunshine annually, with 84% of daytime hours being sunny. The site is located in one of the driest regions on the