Algeria – Hunting Plastic

Pretty much every weekend, husband and I go plogging in our neighbouring forest. Sometimes students are tagging along, sometimes members of the public help. We once even had a soldier from the close-by military compound giving us a bin bag and saying thank you.

This is actually what most people do – watching what we do and then saying thanks. So, somehow information about us and our hobby found its way all up to the townhall where at the beginning of April we met Oran’s mayor and some notables, who are also fighting against illegal cutting down of trees.


The mayor expressed how grateful he and the city of Oran were for our contribution to keep this little patch of green clean and our school’s managing director translated. We were then presented with a certificate of appreciation and a handmade tile, which was beautiful. Tile-making is a local tradition.

From the townhall we went to a near-by privately run museum about the fight for independence from France. There was a connection to our local forest too, because it had been a venue for executions of resistance fighters. There are apparently still trees which have bullets lodged in them.

It was a lovely morning and a great surprise. We’re both very happy that litter-picking is such an appreciated pastime and would be even happier if it wasn’t necessary. However, things being the way they are, in the afternoon we went for a plog and we’ll keep on doing so.


Algeria – The World’s Smallest Waterfall (Tamanrasset 2/4)

The world’s presumably smallest waterfall Temekerest is fairly close to Tamanrasset – and it’s not quite as underwhelming as it sounds. Actually, it’s really exciting. Imagine you’ve been driving through parched landscapes for roughly two hours, seeing very little but bare rocks and the odd acacia tree, trees which are usually decorated with plastic bags.

Every now and then you can also see the plant, apple of Sodom, whose sap can make you blind but whose leaves apparently can be cooked and eaten. We didn’t try either of these though.

Then you turn into a wadi which is sandy and sprouts more trees. Not a drop of water is anywhere in sight. Just more plastic. And possibly some travellers.

You get out of your car and walk towards the hills. Make sure to have covered every bit of skin from the sun. Then notice how the smell has suddenly changed. Listen to the tinkle. Appreciate how the vegetation is completely different.

Be also on the lookout for wildlife. Wheatears and dragonflies come very close and you might see a vulture or a raven flying by. You’re unlikely to see gazelles or cheetahs though because they were used for target practice.

Once your adventure has exhausted you, your fabulous guide will have prepared a picnic. Finally, on your way back keep on the lookout for hyrax and other wildlife. You’ll notice the plastic anyway.

Algeria – World Cleanup Day

We were not an official team for World Cleanup Day because the person I had contacted, well, didn’t seem to care much about cleaning away all the rubbish or to actually be involved. So my husband, some friends and I went out into the forest next to where we live to do our bit (which we do pretty much every weekend anyway).

We spent about two hours cleaning away plastic bottles and bottle tops, wrappers, wet wipes and vast quantities of styrofoam. We were seven to begin with, but some members of the public decided to join us on the spot and helped to collect rubbish and to carry it out of the forest.

The photos are maybe a bit odd because it was overcast, late in the afternoon and I wore gloves. But anyway, we had fun and did something good.

Dinosaur of the week: Wandering Albatross







Diomedea exulans has one of the biggest wingspans of all flying birds, up to 3.5 meters. The Southern Royal Albatross can apparently be even larger. I saw this Wandering Albatross when crossing the Drake passage on my return from a trip to Antarctica.

All species of albatross are in danger, mostly because of fishing methods and plastic.

Here’s a recent account by Ben Lecomte who is swimming across the Pacific:

That was amazing to be in the water with four wild birds of that size just a few feet away from me. I got a fist-beck bump with two of them. Brian jumped in the water with a GoPro and started filming the when one of them went for a red piece of plastic and tried to eat it. Brian reached out and retrieved a small red plastic basket. A couple of minutes later I spotted two of them going after a white small plastic pouch. I quickly got to it, grabbed it and passed it on to Mark in the dinghy.

I can now better understand why so many albatrosses are found dead with their stomach full of plastic debris. A piece of plastic at the surface of the water stands out and easily get their attention.