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Special Report East Africa

The Great Lakes of Africa: Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika

by Sofia Zapata, age 13

There are many lakes in the world, but do people know the important things about some of the African continental lakes? Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika are lakes located in Africa and they are two of the largest and deepest in the world.

Lake Victoria, also called Victoria Nyanza, is the largest lake in Africa. Lake Victoria is 26,828 square miles (69,484 square km). This lake is located in Tanzania and Uganda, bordering Kenya. Lake Victoria serves as an important transport route for East African Nations as it is connected to the Nile River. The lake helps African people and the environment because it provides water for industrial and domestic use and regulates local climate.

Lake Tanganyika is the world's second largest freshwater lake by volume and depth. It covers about 12,700 square miles (32,900 square km) and forms the boundary between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This lake is divided between four countries. The majority of the lake is spread between 46 percent in Tanzania and 40 percent in the DRC. The other two countries possessing the lake are Burundi and Zambia. [Read More]

Explore the Mighty Congo River in the Heart of Africa

by Sol-Saray, age 10

Africa is home to many great rivers. One of them is known as the Congo. In Africa, the Congo is only slightly shorter than the Nile in length, and is just as important to the people who live along the river.

The Congo has been very efficient for the people of Africa when it comes to transporting goods like food, medicine, clothes, and other items to people living along the river. It is also used for fishing and irrigating crops like peanuts, cotton, and sugarcane.

In the river, there are over 30 waterfalls and many other islands. It is near the equator, meaning it can get very hot and wet. The river receives around 90 inches of rain annually. There are 200 species of fish that live on the river. Many animals eat the tall grass that grows along the river, including buffalo, antelopes, zebras, gazelles, and giraffes. [Read More]

The Nile: Egypt's Most Important River

by Sol Saray, age 10

Did you know that the Nile River is allegedly the longest river on Earth? Historically, the Nile River was considered the longest river in the world, however, Brazilian scientists recently discovered that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile by 284 kilometers.

The Nile River is not only important because of how long it is, it also has great involvement with human history. For example, the ancient civilization of Egypt built human cities near the Nile, mainly for agriculture purposes. The Egyptians would exhaust the river to grow crops and export items.

The White Nile and the Blue Nile are both tributaries of the Nile, meaning they are separate rivers that flow into a larger river. In respect to the Nile, when these two smaller rivers coincide, they form a confluence, which is the Nile. The White Nile is home to Lake Victoria in Eastern Africa. [Read More]

Rare Zebra Species Struggles to Survive Drought in East Africa

by Allison Torres, age 14

In September 2022, Kenya experienced one of its worst droughts in the last four decades. This was a direct result of climate change.

The drought has especially impacted the East African country’s wildlife, affecting even the most drought-resistant animals, such as the camel, which is known to survive relatively long periods of time without water. Suze van Meegen, an emergency response manager for the Norwegian refugee council in East Africa told CNN, “Camels are a valuable resource for many people in this region.”

Kenya has lost two percent of the world’s rarest zebra species as well as many elephants. The drought has also jeopardized the country’s wildlife food sources by drying up plant life which has drawn the attention of conservationists. [Read More]

Scientists Find More Trees in Africa than Previously Thought

by Kelly Vazquez, age 17

In the past, a large area of the Sahara Desert in West Africa was recorded as having almost no trees. A team of scientists from all over the globe decided to count the trees again – this time using new technology, but not expecting a big difference.

The new technology – a combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI), satellite images, and one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers – surprised researchers. They discovered a significantly greater number of trees exist in the Sahara Desert than previously thought.

Martin Brandt, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Copenhagen, says that the 10% of the Sahara that was observed, "...had quite a few hundred million more,” instead of the substantially fewer they expected. [Read More]

Remarkable Ancient Texts Preserved in Remote Libraries Deep in the Sahara Desert

by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 14

An ancient and remote village in the middle of the Sahara Desert is home to many sacred texts from libraries that were built more than 1,000 years ago. Now the world’s greatest desert threatens to engulf the history and the libraries of this remarkable place.

The village of Chinguetti was a stopping off point for pilgrims on their way to Mecca. These travelers would stop in Chinguetti to study religion, astronomy, mathematics, and law. All these topics were included in the texts and kept in the libraries at Chinguetti. People could read and study at the libraries as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca.

Until the 1950’s there were still about 30 family-owned libraries open to tourists and travelers. Today, that number has dwindled to only five as tourists lost interest and the desert closed in. And the sand and dry air of the Sahara is taking a toll on the ancient texts. [Read More]

Exploring the Largest Lake in Africa: Lake Victoria

by Juan Esteban Palma Zuluaga, age 10

Africa is known for its many beautiful landscapes, animals, and lakes, one being Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is known to be the biggest tropical lake on Earth, and is the second largest freshwater lake on Earth by land area, following only Lake Superior.

Lake Victoria is about 255 miles long and 155 miles wide. It is only 276 feet deep. Being in the East of Africa close to the equator and between the countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is one of the most well-known water sources for the Nile River. Other smaller rivers and streams, like the Kagera River, flow into this lake.

Lake Victoria provides help to millions of people that live close by. Its water helps with farming and growing a habitat for the animals. Fishing is also a great source of livelihood, because it keeps over three million people working as fishermen. However, this is becoming a problem, because too many fish are being killed – around 750,000 metric tons per year. The people overfish different species, including catfish, marbled lungfish, and elephant fish, which is causing them to disappear from the lake. [Read More]

Learn the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard

by Max Moreno, age 9

People may easily mistake a cheetah for a leopard. However, there are many differences to look for that can help you tell these two species apart.

Did you know that cheetahs prefer to hunt in the day, whereas leopards prefer to hunt at night? A leopard at regular speed can run 37 miles per hour and up to 40 miles per hour when in danger or hunting. Leopards are known to be the shortest of all big cats, however they can be seen and described as bulky. They are also known to be good swimmers and climbers. The leopard is more aggressive than a meek cheetah and although leopards are smaller, they are stronger.

Another obvious difference between the cheetah and the leopard is that a leopard has rose-shaped spots on its fur and the cheetah has almost perfectly round spots. Cheetahs mostly hunt gazelles in their home of South Africa. They are the fastest running animals when hunting, making their speed 75 miles per hour, which is 35 miles per hour faster than the leopard’s fastest speed! [Read More]

A Land and a Culture: Why I Love Eritrea

by Hanna Eyobed, age 15

If it is true, that home is where the heart is, then Eritrea is my rightful home. Eritrea is located on the Horn of Africa, along the Red Sea, and it neighbors Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Sudan. Eritrea became a sovereign country only in 1993, after a 30-year war for independence.

When referring to incredible places, many people tend to speak of big bustling cities or spectacular landscapes. I think of the interconnected community, the unseen martyrs who fought for our independence and the beautiful traditions and sacred entities that inhabit the country. Both my parents, Asmeret and Eyobed, are from Asmara, the capital and largest city in Eritrea. So, my family’s link to our home country is strong.

When it comes to national customs, Eritrean people are known for their gratitude and care of tradition. Even with simple things, such as eating, unity is a prominent character trait. When eating, Eritreans share a big plate and incorporate different dishes into a meal that is widely known as Injera. Conversations like marriage, religion, social issues, family, and everyday lives are shared. [Read More]

Why You Should Stay Away From Nile Crocodiles

by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Nile crocodile? It is a big and dangerous creature, and hundreds of people are killed by it annually.

The Nile crocodile is an apex predator, which is defined as the top predator of any given region or ecosystem. These predators generally do not fear other predators; they are also particular about their prey, which primarily consists of birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles alike. When hunting for prey, the Nile crocodile always awaits the perfect opportunity to strike, which can take hours, days, and sometimes weeks at a time.

The Nile crocodile waits in freshwater bodies, such as lakes and rivers, for potential prey. In the water, the reptilian creature remains still, waiting for their target to come near. Luckily, they are able to successfully hold their breath for up to two hours. [Read More]

Why You Should Visit Madagascar — by Shalmat Shalom, age 14

The country of Madagascar is 1,609 km (1,000 miles) long. Even after separating from Africa about 165 million years ago, the animals and plants inhabiting the country never stopped evolving. There have been special plants and animals that now only grow on the island. [Read More]

The Royal Tombs Inside the Valley of the Kings — by Jacob Dunn, age 13

The Valley of the Kings is one of the most important parts of Egyptian history. This ancient place holds almost all the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. This burial site contains the bodies of pharaohs dating back to the 18th,19th, and 20th dynasties (1539 BCE to 1075 BCE). [Read More]

Not Really a Big Cat, the Caracal Is a Hunter that Lives in Asia and Africa — by Sol-Saray, age 10

A desert lynx, also known as caracal, is a wild cat native from Africa, Asia, and parts of India. They can be found in woodlands, grasslands, savannahs, and forest. [Read More]

Horus: God of the Sky and Egyptian Avenger — by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

Horus, the infamous God, was one of the first of five gods in Egyptian Mythology. Horus was worshiped everywhere in Egypt as the God of the sky. In Egyptian mythology, Horus always appeared handsome with a falcon head. Sometimes he even appeared as a falcon-headed crocodile. [Read More]