Mali Overview

Animals and Plants

Mali’s nature

Mali’s entire north lies in the Sahara, i.e. in the desert. The few animals and plants that can survive here at all have adapted to the drought of this area. It is also dry and hot in the Sahel zone. The desert has spread south over the past few decades. There is greater diversity in the very south of the country.

Which animals live in Mali?

Hunting, cutting down trees and overgrazing have made many mammals extinct in Mali. Of the large mammal species in Africa, only giraffes and hippos and a few elephants remain, and they are also endangered. Baboons, monkeys and mane jumpers, for example, are more common. There are still chimpanzees in the very south-west of Mali.

Reptiles, on the other hand, come in numerous types. They include the monitor lizard in the north and south, the puff adder, the rock python and the African spitting cobra in the far south. Uromastyx is one of the iguanas.

Even birds come in many types, such as weaver birds and guinea fowl, band finches and purple Turako. In winter, many migratory birds come to Niger from Europe. Like the Nubian blackjack, the ostrich is one of the endangered species in Mali. The Mali amaranth, a species of finch, likes to stay in Niger.

Fish live in rivers such as the Niger and Senegal. The Nile perch is often caught.

In the Sahel zone, termites loosen the soil. They are therefore useful insects. The swarms of locusts, however, are feared. The desert locust can destroy entire crops.

What is growing in Mali?

Only a few plants grow in the desert in the north: some grasses and sometimes acacias in wadis. There are a few more acacias in the northern Sahel. Leptadenia pyrotechnica, a shrub, also grows here. The toothbrush tree can also appear. It’s not a joke, it’s really called that. It is traditionally used for dental care: buds, roots and twigs are chewed until they fray and look a bit like a toothbrush. You can use it to clean your teeth.

Acacias and grasses also grow in the thorn tree savannah, and there are also desert dates. A typical landscape here is the tiger skin bush: bushes and trees alternate with land on which almost nothing grows. It looks like a tiger with dots or stripes.

The south of Mali is covered with dry forests. In the dry season they shed their leaves, in the rainy season they turn green. The kapok tree, the shea tree, the baobab and the ana tree grow here. Grasses, such as hyparrhenia and andropogon species, can be found in areas where it is not so humid.

Mali Wildlife


Mali – a poor country

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2018, Mali was ranked 184th out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index, which compares the wealth of countries. The reasons for this are enormous population growth, poor education, corruption, famine and the desert that covers part of the country and spreads further south.

The agriculturally usable land is threatened enough by this, but also by deforestation (wood is collected as fuel) and excessive use. The soil becomes impoverished (erosion).

Another problem is the transport routes. Only a quarter of Mali’s roads are paved, i.e. paved. The dirt roads are dusty in the heat and flood in the rainy season. There is only one railway line in Mali. Their tracks and trains are outdated.

41 percent of the state’s income comes from agriculture, 19 percent from industry, and 7 percent of it from gold mining. 40 percent comes from services. Mali has to buy (import) more goods from other countries than it has to sell (export) goods. Mainly cotton and gold are exported. The two goods account for 80 percent of sales profits.

Agriculture: Only in the south

Agriculture can only be practiced in the south of Mali, i.e. in the south-western triangle. Only there is enough rain. The agriculturally usable area is small, yet 80 percent of the people work in agriculture. Many grow something that they then sell in the market or at street stalls.

Peanuts, millet, corn and cotton are grown, but also onions and bananas, rice and sugar cane. Cattle are also kept, especially goats, sheep and cattle. The Tuareg, who live as nomads, also keep animals.

Gold in Mali

Some mineral resources such as phosphate, lime, iron ore, uranium and rock salt are stored on Mali’s national territory. So far, one thing in particular has been funded: gold. Mali is the third largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana – and yet one of the poorest countries.


Mali has little industry. In addition to gold mining, there are companies that manufacture textiles, food and building materials. For more articles on Mali and Africa, please visit hyperrestaurant.

Everyday life in Mali

The families in Mali are big. Each woman has an average of six children. That is why there are many more children and young people than here. More than half of the population is under 18 years of age. By the age of 18, half of the girls in Mali (50 out of 100 18-year-olds) are married.

Life is mostly outside. Cooking is usually done on an open fireplace in front of the house or in the yard. There are hardly any refrigerators and washing machines. Not all houses have electricity. Almost everyone in cities (92 percent) has access to clean water, but only around two thirds of the population in rural areas (68 percent). Even in the city, only 53 percent of them have flush toilets.

What are the names of the people in Mali?

Typical surnames in Mali are Traoré, Keita, Touré or Konaré – by the way, this was the name of several politicians in Mali, but also Diarra or Diabaté. And the first names? Boys are called, for example, Mamadou, Moussa, Mahamadou, Adama, Bakary, Abdoulaye, Modibo, Oumar, Sekou or Solomane. Girls are often called Fatoumata, Mariam, Aminata, Hawa, Awa, Oumou, Djeneba, Bintou, Fanta or Kadiatou.

What do the children in Mali play with?

Malian children hardly have any toys. There isn’t much time to play either. Even younger children have to help their parents with housework or in the fields. If there is still time to play, what is there is used, perhaps an old tire that is driven with a stick. As in all of West Africa, football is popular with the young.


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