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Senegal’s savannah jockey dreams of international glory

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The Wider Image: Meet the teenage Senegalese jockey racing to fame

NIAGA, Senegal – A head shorter than his peers, Fallou Diop quickly vanishes into the crowd of jockeys preparing for early morning drills in the western Senegalese village of Niaga.

When the racing begins, however, his crouched silhouette is far ahead of the field, aided by an effortless riding style.

“When I start riding I get a bit stressed, but after a moment, it’s over,” Diop says. “At the time of the race, I’m only thinking of victory.”

Diop is one of Senegal’s most promising jockeys, having won the country’s top racing prize when he was just 17. He hopes to begin racing in France next year, realizing a dream coveted by some of Senegal’s foremost riders.

Horses are an integral part of life in Senegal. Horse-drawn buggies are ubiquitous across the country, and over the past 50 years competitive racing has developed into a national pastime.

“It’s a passion in my family,” Diop said. “Since my grandfather we’ve supported horses, then my father after him.”

In villages like Niaga, where Diop lives, horse feed and supply shops line the main roads, and fields are dotted with men on horseback.

Adorned with colourful ceramic tiles on a busy back street, the house Diop shares with 12 family members is getting a new roof thanks to the money from his winnings.

Depending on the number of horses in a race, Diop can earn up to $600 dollars per victory. Average monthly wages in Senegal were estimated at around $180 at the end of 2019.

Diop’s success is a source of pride for his father, who spent much of his life driving a horse and buggy around Niaga. His older brother, who also hoped to be a jockey before a growth spurt got in the way, boasts of Diop’s achievements to visitors.

Fallou Diop, 19, a jockey, holds onto a young mare called Raissa Betty, whom he is currently training to compete with in the future, as they cross a road after a hack along Lac Rose, also known as Lake Retba, in Niaga, Rufisque region, Senegal, January 27, 2021.

Reuters

The Wider Image: Meet the teenage Senegalese jockey racing to fame

Fallou Diop, 19, a jockey, prays at the Lambafar stable in Niaga, Rufisque region, Senegal, January 27, 2021.

Reuters

The Wider Image: Meet the teenage Senegalese jockey racing to fame

Fallou Diop, 19, a jockey, carries hay to be fed to the horses at the Lambafar stable in Niaga, Rufisque region, Senegal, January 27, 2021.

Reuters

The Wider Image: Meet the teenage Senegalese jockey racing to fame

Fallou Diop, 19, a jockey, adjusts another jockey’s saddle as he rides a horse during a training session on a field in Sangalkam, Senegal, January 28, 2021.

Reuters

The Wider Image: Meet the teenage Senegalese jockey racing to fame

Fallou Diop, 19, a jockey, rides his horse during a training session on a field in Sangalkam, Senegal, January 28, 2021.

Reuters

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“It’s the elders who taught us everything since we were young, and that’s how I became passionate about horses,” Diop said.

Diop, who has dropped formal schooling, was 12 when he left a tailoring apprenticeship to pursue racing. According to his father, he was so determined that he walked 10 miles to enroll in the nearest training program.

Today, Diop and other jockeys in Niaga are taught by Adama Bao, whose family has maintained a stud farm near the salty shores of Senegal’s Lac Rose for three generations.

“[Diop] is very gifted,” Bao said. “He could compete up to 50 years with his weight and size.”

Bao plans to send Diop to France for three months in early 2022 to race for a French-Senegalese breeder. He would have travelled last year, Bao said, had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Diop’s skills were put to the test at the racetrack in Thiès, Senegal’s third largest city.

Dressed in vibrant yellow and blue, Diop calmly mounted his steed and led it towards the track.

He went on to finish first in three of his five races that day, taking home nearly $1,000 in winnings.

“I want to be the best jockey in a country other than mine,” he said. “In Morocco or France, anywhere there is horse racing.”

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Ducks escape certain death to visit NYC bagel store

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Ducks escape certain death to visit NYC bagel store

This fowl plot to get bread was nearly eggsecuted perfectly.

On Monday, a gang of ducklings and their mama hatched a plan to eat the bill at a Brooklyn bagel store, and were almost successful in their mission thanks to a group of supportive locals. 

“A real-life ‘Make Way For Ducklings’ scene just unfolded in Brooklyn with this mama duck and her babies trying to cross 5th Ave,” Doug Gordon captioned a video he posted to Twitter of the enterprising bird family’s journey from under an NYPD school safety van and directly into oncoming traffic. “Multiple people helped stop traffic to get them safely across the street. But it gets better . . .”

After spotting the endangered crew of bird brains lolling around in the street, locals immediately went into action. 

“A couple of us jumped out to stop traffic so they didn’t get run over, and then they got to the other side. It was adorable, a real Brooklyn-steps-up sort of moment, New Yorkers taking charge,” Gordon told Gothamist. 

Once safely on the sidewalk, the chicks and their mother beelined for Bagel World Park Slope. 

“They were in there a couple minutes, but I didn’t see what happened inside,” Gordon told the publication. “I don’t know whether they decided to come out because they didn’t see anything on the menu they liked, or if they were chased out.”

In Gordon’s video, the fledgling family exits the eatery, lured out by employees tossing breadcrumbs beyond the premises as onlookers label them “so cute.” 

Gordon and another man then trailed the ducks to ensure they made their way across Fourth Street without injury. 

Later, Gordon learned that the ducks had the good fortune of being escorted four more blocks to Prospect Park by other sympathetic humans. 

“Someone said [they had] led them up to Prospect Park, so they got there safely,” Gordon said. “They waddled into the woods, so it’s a happy ending.”

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Endangered corpse flower blooms in Warsaw, drawing crowds

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The endangered Sumatran Titan arum, or the corpse flower, at the rare moment of bloom for just a few hours, and emitting rotten meat odor, at the Warsaw University Botanical Gardens, in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

WARSAW, Poland — The endangered Sumatran Titan arum, a giant foul-smelling blossom also known as the corpse flower, went into a rare, short bloom at a botanical garden in Warsaw, drawing crowds who waited for hours to see it.

The extraordinary flower, which emits a dead-body odor to attract pollinating insects that feed on flesh, bloomed Sunday. It was already withering early Monday. Those wishing to avoid the smell and crowds could watch it on live video from the Warsaw University Botanical Gardens.

 The endangered Sumatran Titan arum, or the corpse flower, at the rare moment of bloom for just a few hours, and emitting rotten meat odor, at the Warsaw University Botanical Gardens, in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday, June 13, 2021.
The endangered Sumatran Titan arum, or the corpse flower, at the rare moment of bloom for just a few hours and emitting a rotten meat odor, at the Warsaw University Botanical Gardens, on June 13, 2021.
AP

Hundreds, if not thousands, lined up long into the night Sunday and Monday morning at the conservatory just to be able to pass by the flower and take a picture.

Know also as the Amorphophallus titanum, the flowering plant has the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, which can be up to 10 feet high. Its compound flower is composed of a hollow, tall spadix with small flowers and a spathe, with one big, furrowed petal that is green on the outside and deep burgundy red on the inside. It’s blooming is rare and unpredictable.

The plant only grows in the wild in the rainforests of Sumatra, but it is endangered there due to deforestation. Cultivation at botanical gardens, where they are a great visitor attraction, has helped its preservation. It’s first known blooming outside Sumatra was in 1889 at London’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

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Europe carbon prices expected to soar amid tougher climate goals

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Steam rises from the cooling towers of the coal power plant of RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity and gas companies in Niederaussem, Germany, March 3, 2016.

LONDON – Carbon prices in the European Union’s emissions trading system are expected to rise significantly in the next decade due to tougher climate goals, market participants said in an industry survey published on Monday.

The EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) is the largest carbon market in the world, covering around 45% of the bloc’s output of greenhouse gases and charging emitters for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.

The survey by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) found members expect carbon prices in the EU ETS to average $57 a tonne between 2021 and 2025 and $71.06 a tonne between 2026 and 2030.

This is mainly due to a tougher EU goal of cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Last year’s survey predicted an average price of 31.71 euros a tonne for the third phase of the ETS which runs from 2021 to 2030. Benchmark prices in the ETS currently trade around $64.24 a tonne.

Britain’s domestic emissions trading scheme started trading in May this year. The majority of survey respondents expect it will link with the EU scheme by 2023.

Participants anticipate that the average global carbon price needed by 2030 to put the world on track to meet goals to curb global temperature rise is $76.61 a tonne, up from last year’s expectation of $67.84 a tonne.

IETA’s members include banks, exchanges and energy and industrial firms. The association received responses from 158 member representatives for the survey.

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