A gas-guzzling motor race might prove an unlikely comparison for an environmental field trip, but as our convoy of 4x4s cuts through the Senegalese bush, I feel like we’re competing in the Dakar Rally. Bounding over dunes and brushing past acacia trees, our driver picks a path across this harsh, unforgiving terrain using the brake lights of the car in front to navigate through the dust.

Excited by the spectacle, children run from their villages to wave at us, while bemused shepherds and their cattle look up from shady spots beneath the trees. Occasionally, we pass a horse and cart transporting ...


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